The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced several possible options to clean up toxic contamination at and around a former industrial site in Franklin, Indiana believed by residents to be the cause of dozens of cases of cancer in children.
The proposal includes injecting reducing agents into the ground to form protective barriers that chemically change contaminants into less toxic or less mobile forms.
The site, known as the Amphenol/Franklin Power Products site, is the source of toxic contaminants known as volatile organic compounds that were released at the facility between 1961 and 1983 and that made their way into areas neighboring the site.
The EPA determined that Bendix Corp., the company that owned the site during that time period, released VOCs, including the carcinogens trichloroethylene, known as TCE, and tetrachloroethylene, known as PCE, from the facility’s plating room into the sanitary sewer line.
The agency said cracks in the sewer line could have allowed the VOCs to escape and leach off the site and into the soil and groundwater around the site.
In 2018, groundwater and sewer vapor testing coordinated by the city of Franklin found TCE at levels 252 times the safe limit set by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and PCE levels at 53 times the safe limit.
Some Johnson County residents believe the contamination is the cause of dozens of cases of childhood cancer, some extremely rare.
The EPA is proposing to inject zero valent iron or carbon substrate products into the ground to create a chemical barrier, called a permeable reactive groundwater treatment barrier, at the Amphenol/Franklin Power Products property boundary to chemically break down VOCs into less toxic forms.
The EPA also wants to inject activated persulfate, hydrogen peroxide or permanganate into contaminated soils to destroy VOCs at the site to prevent continued groundwater contamination.
Beyond the boundaries of the site, the EPA will inject permeable reactive groundwater treatment barriers in public rights-of-way, primarily along Forsythe St.
The planned cleanup is in addition to the interim measures being taken by the EPA, including recovering contaminated groundwater and treating before returning it to the sanitary sewer system, a process known as “pump and treat.”
The EPA will also hold an information session and formal public hearing Thursday, June 9 at Franklin City Hall beginning at 6p.m.