EPA Investigates Polluted Groundwater in Indiana

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Industry Tags: Groundwater, Pollution, Research

The EPA is investigating a well-known vinyl chloride contamination problem in Kokomo, Indiana.The EPA has identified 15 potential sources of the chemical. If the source is not discovered, the EPA will pay for cleanup of the groundwater plume

For around two decades, tests at the Indiana American Water treatment facility revealed groundwater beneath the city contained trace amounts of vinyl chloride, a manufactured chemical used in the production of plastic products and packaging materials.

American Water officials knew the industrial chemical was there, but there wasn’t much they could do about it besides clean it out of the city’s drinking water, just like any other contaminant.

But the true extent of the pollution was worse than anyone could have guessed.

In 2007, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management began testing the groundwater, which confirmed levels of vinyl chloride at four municipal wells at levels exceeding the EPA maximum contaminant level in raw water. 

In 2011, more tests revealed one of the monitoring wells, which was not owned or used by Indiana American Water, had amounts of vinyl chloride that were more than 2,500 times the maximum level for drinking water.

In the end, IDEM determined the 294-acre water plume beneath the city that provides around 55,000 residents with drinking water was contaminated with the chemical.

But that’s all they knew. How it got to be so polluted in the first place remained a mystery.

Source: Kokomo Tribune

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