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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Rolls-Royce - Indianapolis, 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 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its state partners to develop the RCRA Corrective Action Program. The program oversees the investigation and cleanup of nearly 4,000 potential hazardous waste sites with RCRA liability across the country, including many with risks comparable to Superfund sites. 

The Rolls-Royce facility is a turbine engine manufacturing facility that is located on two industrial properties in Indianapolis: Plant 5 and Plant 8. The EPA issued a Statement of Basis on November 16, 2020 explaining the agency’s proposed remedy to address contaminated soil and groundwater as part of its public participation responsibilities under RCRA. EPA is seeking comments from the public on the proposed remedy.

Cleanup Status

Rolls-Royce conducted a RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI) at Plants 5 and 8 between October 2001 and April 2003. The RFI included soil, sediment, groundwater, surface water, borehole water, and biota sampling. A total of 42 Areas of Interest, commonly referred to as AOIs or areas, were investigated to determine whether any significant release of materials that are hazardous to the environment had occurred. Based on the results of the initial phase of the RFI field effort, Rolls-Royce conducted three additional phases of field investigation to fully characterize the nature and extent of the releases identified. Constituents detected above relevant soil and/or groundwater screening criteria included a variety of chlorinated volatile organic compounds, or CVOCs; petroleum hydrocarbons and metals were also reported in facility soil and groundwater. The investigation also determined that CVOC contamination was migrating off-site to the south in groundwater.  

Short-term measures have been completed in several areas of the facility to remove and control sources of contamination. Air sparging and soil vapor extraction systems were operated at eight areas to reduce the CVOC mass in soil and groundwater within the upper sand and gravel unit. Soil was also excavated in the former underground storage tanks area to address a release of mercury. As a result, approximately 100 tons of excavated soil was disposed at an off-site landfill.

In April 2019, soil gas sampling in the southwest area of the facility and in the adjacent residential neighborhood confirmed that TCE and PCE were present in soil gas in the residential neighborhood. However, the contaminants were detected at levels below the risk-based screening criteria for those compounds, and EPA concluded that there are currently no potentially significant vapor intrusion exposures to residents in the neighborhood south of the facility. The investigation results did confirm the potential for vapor intrusion to pose a risk in on-site areas, based on existing groundwater sampling data. Additional investigation is planned for those on-site areas in 2020, along with semi-annual soil gas sampling in the residential area south of the site. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), chemicals used in fire suppression and plating operations, are potentially on-site and groundwater investigations are ongoing. Further courses of action, which may include additional investigation or cleanup, will be determined based on the results of the vapor intrusion and PFAS investigations.

EPA issued a Statement of Basis on November 16, 2020 explaining the proposed remedy for contaminated soil and groundwater as part of its public participation responsibilities under RCRA. EPA will select a final remedy for the facility after the public comment period has ended and any information provided by the public has been reviewed and considered. EPA may modify the proposed remedy or select another remedy based on new information or public comments. Therefore, the public is encouraged to participate in the remedy selection process by reviewing the Statement of Basis, as well as documents contained in the facility record, and then providing comments to EPA.

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Site Description

The Rolls-Royce facility is a turbine engine manufacturing facility located on two industrial properties in Indianapolis: Plant 5 and Plant 8. Plant 5 was constructed in 1942 to produce aircraft engines and was originally owned by the Defense Plant Corporation. GM purchased the plant in 1966 and subsequently sold the plant in 1993 to AEC Acquisition Corporation. A wide range of turbine engine-related production processes have been performed at Plant 5 including metal fabrication, machining, heat treating, electroplating, engine testing and assembly. GM constructed Plant 8 in 1953 for turbine engine research and development. The processes conducted at Plant 8 were similar to those performed at Plant 5. Rolls-Royce North America purchased the plants in 1995 and currently owns and operates the facilities to produce turbine engines for commercial and military aircraft. Manufacturing processes are performed at Plant 5. Plant 8 is used for research and development.

In 1999, GM obtained ownership from Rolls-Royce of a closed hazardous waste surface impoundment to facilitate post-closure care. The surface impoundment is classified as a landfill for permitting purposes. In 1999, GM submitted the post-closure permit application to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, commonly referred to as IDEM. IDEM issued a post-closure permit for the Facility on June 29, 2001, and a subsequent draft permit on October 27, 2006. Due to the GM bankruptcy in 2009, the surface impoundment became the property of the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response (RACER) Trust, which was formed in 2011 to manage environmental assets from the GM bankruptcy. RACER Trust maintains responsibility for the post-closure maintenance of the surface impoundment.                                     

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Contaminants at this Facility

The primary chemicals of concern (COCs) in soil and groundwater are tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene or PCE, and trichloroethene, or TCE, from past degreasing operations. Other chlorinated volatile organic compounds, or CVOCs, including 1,1,1-trichloroethane; 1,1,2- trichloroethane; carbon tetrachloride; 1,2-dichloroethane; 1,1-dichloroethene; 1,2-dichloroethene; 1,3-dichloropropene; methylene chloride; 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane; vinyl chloride; and 1,2,3-trichloropropane have been detected above screening criteria at the facility. Petroleum hydrocarbons and metals were also reported in facility soil and groundwater.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

Existing institutional controls include a No Well Zone (Area 11) established by the Marion County Health Department, or MCHD, that does not allow a well permit to be issued for a drinking water well at or downgradient of the property, and a deed restriction on the property to ensure land use remains industrial/commercial. EPA’s proposed remedy will include imposing a new institutional control on the property that will include prohibiting potable use of groundwater at the facility, requiring evaluation of new groundwater use that is different from current use to confirm that the new use will not result in a significant exposure, prevent excavation or extraction of contaminated soil or groundwater without implementing proper waste handling procedures, and require vapor intrusion be addressed in affected on-site buildings or new construction.

The proposed remedy also requires the facility to perform groundwater monitoring under an approved Monitoring Plan. Groundwater monitoring data will be used to track remaining concentrations of hazardous materials and confirm they do not pose a risk to human health or the environment.  

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Land Reuse Information at this Facility

The EPA is not aware of any plans to change the use of the property or redevelop it in any way at this time. Future use of the facility is at the discretion of the company. However, any future use must meet all current environmental requirements for the site, including the controls proposed under the Statement of Basis.

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Site Responsiblity at this Facility

Corrective Action activities at this facility have been conducted under EPA with support from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

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