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EPA eyes methods to clean groundwater of cancer-causing compounds in Franklin

The drill rig used to collect soil samples in Franklin, Indiana. (Photo Provided/U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) — Preliminary tests of methods to clean groundwater near a former power cable maker were found effective at reducing levels of volatile organic compounds, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday.

The methods in the preliminary test will be considered as “full-scale potential cleanup” options for the areas with contaminated groundwater, an EPA news release said.

Trichloroethylene — a compound referred to as PCE or TCE, and known to cause cancer — has been found in groundwater at and near two industrial sites: the former Amphenol Corp. plant and the former Hougland Cannery. TCE is commonly used as an industrial solvent. Amphenol Corp. manufactured electrical parts in the area from the 1960s into the 1980s.

The preliminary tests were done near a groundwater monitoring well on Hamilton Avenue, where concentrations of TCE decreased within one month to the point where they were no longer detected in laboratory analysis. Concentrations of PCE were already under detection limits when the test started, the EPA said.

The second test location was a trench along North Forsythe Avenue where a sewer line was being replaced and contaminated soil had been removed. When the sewer trench was open, Amphenol treated the soil and groundwater to see if they could create a contaminant barrier when groundwater moves through the soil. Concentrations of volatile organic compounds in groundwater generally decreased around the former trench. However, it was not clear which of the remedial actions — sewer line replacement or the treatment — produced this result. This area will be studied further to understand the effects of the treatment. 

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The EPA said it will consider the pilot study results and evaluate other technologies in deciding how to clean up the groundwater. The EPA also will propose a cleanup plan and consider public comments before making a final decision on cleanup.

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