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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Exide Technologies, Frankfort, Indiana

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Congress amended the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in November 1984, expanding the Act's cleanup provisions and prompting EPA and its state partners to develop the RCRA Corrective Action Program. The program oversees the investigation and cleanup of nearly 4,000 hazardous waste sites across the country, including many with risks comparable to Superfund sites.

In September 2014, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) screened nearby residential properties for metals and detected lead at high levels in residential yards adjacent to the western and northeastern property boundaries of the Exide facility. In addition, IDEM noted in a report that "results may indicate a significant vapor intrusion potential in the homes located adjacent to the Exide property boundaries."

In November 2014, IDEM referred the facility to EPA's Superfund Removal Program for a site assessment. Superfund personnel sampled soil from 16 residential properties and performed sub-slab or crawl space and indoor air sampling at seven properties. Superfund removal activities at off-site properties were conducted from September 2015 to August 2016. The activities included removing 1,497 tons of non-hazardous contaminated soil from 12 residential properties and installing one vapor intrusion mitigation system at a residential property.

An Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) entered into by Exide and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA Region 5) was executed and became effective on May 9, 2017. This Order required Exide to investigate soil and groundwater at the Site to identify and define the nature and extent of any hazardous constituents at the Site. The AOC requires Exide to describe the current conditions at the facility, submit a work plan for RCRA Facility Investigation, perform interim measures as needed to control current human exposures to contamination or to stabilize migration of contaminated groundwater, and propose final corrective measures necessary to protect human health and the environment from all current and future unacceptable risks due to releases of hazardous waste or constituents at the facility based on anticipated land use.

On May 19, 2020 Exide notified EPA that it had filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The Department of Justice (DOJ) worked with Exide Corporation bankruptcy counsel to establish an environmental response trust for Exide’s portfolio of Non-Performing Properties which included the Frankfort facility. EPA worked with the DOJ to secure the financial assurance bond to provide monies to continue the investigation and cleanup work at the Frankfort, Indiana facility. 

EPA anticipates that the completion of this investigation and corrective action work will position the facility for beneficial reuse within the Frankfort, Indiana community. Investigation and corrective actions will also benefit the immediately surrounding community by remediating a source of contamination that has previously affected surrounding properties.

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    Cleanup Status

    Exide began investigating the soil and groundwater at the property under the AOC with EPA. The investigation will continue under the established environmental response trust and results will be available in a RCRA Facility Investigation Report. Currently available reports can be found at the Reports and Documents link in the Additional Site Information box.

    Additional information on Superfund Removal Action activities may be found at the EPA Superfund Activities link in the Additional Site Information box.

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      Site Description

      The 13.7 acre Exide facility (Site) consists of eighteen (18) contiguous/adjacent parcels owned by Exide and covers about 4.5 acres that formerly contained buildings for manufacturing lead-acid batteries and related operations. The Site is bounded by North Hoke Avenue to the west, Kelley Avenue to the east, Washington Street to the north, and Norfolk Southern railroad tracks to the south. No above grade structures remain on-site. Approximately 12.1 acres of the facility are located within the perimeter of an existing security fence. The majority of the area within the fence perimeter is paved. The remaining 1.6 acres of the facility lies outside of the fence and has an open grass covered surface.

      The facility operated from 1963 to 1997. During operations approximately 4.5 acres of the Site were under roof and dedicated to battery manufacturing and other directly related operations (wastewater, emission control, offices, etc.). The remaining 7.6 acres of paved area inside the fence was utilized for parking of automobiles, trucks, and trailers. Operations at the facility resulted in contamination of soil and groundwater by lead and VOCs. The facility was used by Exide for equipment storage until demolition occurred in October 2012. The Site is currently vacant.

      Based on a review of historic aerial photos, the three (3) grassy parcels outside of the perimeter fence do not appear to have been used for any operational purpose by Exide.

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      Contaminants at this Facility

      Lead is the primary inorganic contaminant that has been observed on the Site. This is consistent with long term use of the Site for the manufacture of lead-acid batteries. Typically, other related metals such as arsenic and cadmium may also be observed at the site of a former battery manufacturing operation.

      Petroleum-derived fuels such as gasoline, #2 heating oil, and diesel fuel were stored onsite in underground storage tanks. Fuel oils are complex structures composed of varying fractions of alkanes, aromatic hydrocarbons, sulfur, nitrogen, and oxygenated compounds. Several of the organic compounds that are typically associated with these fuels include “naphtha compounds.” Naphtha compounds include several simple polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and were identified onsite during the closure of Underground Storage Tanks.

      Chlorinated solvents are not typically associated with petroleum-derived fuel compounds. However, the presence of chlorinated solvents including Tetrachloroethylene (PCE), Trichloroethylene (TCE), and Vinyl Chloride was identified in the vicinity of the Underground Storage Tank-2 removal.

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      Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

      EPA may require Institutional and/or Engineering Controls at this Site as the investigation and Site cleanup progresses.

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      Land Reuse Information at this Facility

      The environmental response trust is responsible for cleanup efforts and positioning the property for sale or lease for redevelopment

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      Site Responsiblity at this Facility

      The environmental response trust is responsible for performing RCRA Corrective Action cleanup at the Frankfort facility.

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