KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to install six groundwater monitoring wells around Kokomo to investigate the source and scope of chemical contamination that’s spread through groundwater beneath much of the north-central Indiana city.
The plans for the monitoring wells come five years after the 294-acre (119-hectare) groundwater plume was listed on the EPA’s Superfund national program for top cleanup priorities.
The site was placed on that list in 2015 after testing found it was tainted with arsenic and vinyl chloride, a chemical used in the production of plastic products and packaging materials.
The underground plume also contains chlorinated solvents, which are chemicals widely used for dry cleaning and to clean machinery and electronic parts, the Kokomo Tribune reported.
EPA officials have investigated the extent and source of the contamination, including identifying 14 facilities within the city that handle solvents containing vinyl chloride. There have been no conclusive findings in the past five years.
The EPA said the six groundwater monitoring wells will seek to determine how far down the contamination extends. The wells will help the agency determine the depth at which the contaminated groundwater is moving and the best method for cleaning it up.
Data from those wells will also help investigators determine sites for other wells expected to be placed next year around Kokomo, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) north of Indianapolis.
“Because we don’t yet know the extent of the plume or the source, it may take several years for EPA to fully understand everything that’s going on in the subsurface,” the EPA said in an email.
Indiana American Water's water treatment facility treats all the water that's pulled from the polluted plume to ensure that it’s free from vinyl chloride or other contaminants.