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EPA in Indiana

Amphenol/Franklin Power Products in Franklin, Ind.

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January  2021

On January 11, 2021, EPA approved a work plan for collecting additional on-site soil and groundwater samples at the Amphenol Site.  In December 2020, Amphenol identified a need for additional information on subsurface conditions on-site, specifically soil and groundwater beneath the site building.  Amphenol will install up to 20 soil borings and collect up to 12 groundwater samples.  In addition, two new permanent on-site groundwater monitoring wells will be installed inside the building.  The information collected from this sampling event will be used to design and evaluate cleanup options for on-site soil.  

The sampling work will begin on January 11, 2021 and be completed around January 20, 2021.  Because the drilling will proceed inside the occupied commercial building, it will be completed during evening hours to minimize disturbance to the workers and ongoing operations. 

September 2020

Amphenol sampled soil on and near the former Amphenol property Sept. 16-18, 2020. The sampling event was an expansion of the sampling work completed in May 2020. Information about contamination in the soil will be used to identify which soil areas should be targeted for remediation to prevent contamination of groundwater; this area is referred to as the “source area.”

In May, an instrument called a membrane interface probe was used to identify contaminated soil down to the dense clay zone which starts at around 20-25 feet below the surface. The information from the probe indicated where to remove samples for laboratory analysis. The most contaminated zone was between 17-25 feet below the surface in the interval above and at the top of the clay. The clay performs as a barrier to keep the contamination from migrating downward. 

Volatile organic compound (VOC) concentrations on the former Amphenol facility ranged between non-detect and 370 mg/kg for tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and non-detect and 67 mg/kg for trichloroethylene (TCE). Mg/kg stands for milligrams per kilogram and is also called parts per million. View the figure that displays the sample results and the sample locations.

The September sampling is intended to locate the boundary of the contaminated soil found in May. This information will be used to design a remedy to clean up the soil that is keeping the on-site groundwater contaminated. One goal of the source-area treatment is to eliminate the on-site groundwater pump-and-treat system which has been operating since the 1990s. That system is designed to keep the groundwater from moving off-site by pumping it into the treatment building where it is cleaned.

Photo of Soil sample cores that show the type of soil above the clay layer at the SiteSoil sample cores that show the type of soil above the clay layer at the Site.

Photo of the drill rig used to collect soil samples.The drill rig used to collect soil samples.

Groundwater Pilot Study October 2019 – April 2020


Between October 2019 and April 2020, Amphenol’s contractor tested a way to clean groundwater near the Amphenol site. This type of test is called a “pilot study.” The groundwater pilot study evaluated whether the off-site plume could be cleaned by injecting a product called PlumeStop™ which is made up of tiny carbon particles and a type of iron that reacts with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The carbon particles used were very small, about the size of a bacterium. This treatment involved two steps, “adsorption” and “degradation.” In the adsorption step, the carbon sticks to the soil particles and attracts the VOCs from the groundwater to its surface. In the degradation step, the iron reacts with the VOCs and destroys them. This process needed to be tested in the actual contaminated groundwater before it could be proposed as an option for cleaning the groundwater. Figure 1 shows the two areas included in the test; EPA will post the final pilot study report following its approval.

Test Area MW-35:  Table 1 shows how five PlumeStop™ injection points surrounding MW-35 on Hamilton Ave near the former Amphenol Site successfully lowered the concentrations of TCE in groundwater. After the injection, groundwater concentrations of TCE reduced from 85 ppb to zero. The other VOC of interest at this location, PCE, was already below detection limits when the test started.  The drinking water contaminant limit for both TCE and PCE is 5 ppb and was used as a contamination reference point. The testing treated a fairly small area (around 400 square feet) at this location.

Graphic showing Table 1:  Green-shaded groundwater samples taken after injection of PlumeStop™ around MW-35 in late October 2019Table 1:  Green-shaded groundwater samples taken after injection of PlumeStop™ around MW-35 in late October 2019

Test Area Trench:  At a location along North Forsythe Ave., Amphenol tested PlumeStop™ to see how it might perform to prevent recontamination of groundwater in an area where groundwater rises and falls. During the sewer/soil remedy, when the sewer replacement trench was open, Amphenol injected PlumeStop™ at five locations along the bottom of the trench. The treatment mixture remained in the soil when the trench was filled back in where it could contact contaminated groundwater. Removing the contaminated soil and sewer pipe was one remedial measure to remove contamination, and the PlumeStop™ injection was another. 

The combined effects of the two remedial approaches in the trench test area could not be easily separated, so the specific effect of the PlumeStop™ injections was unclear. In general, the wells sampled around and downgradient of this area showed that concentrations of VOCs went down during the test period. We are continuing to evaluate the groundwater in this area. Around 380 linear feet were treated along the trench.

Figure 1 shows the two pilot study locations. The shaded area along N. Forsythe St. and Hamilton Ave. represent the approximate boundaries of the VOC plume at the time of the PlumeStop™ injections.Figure 1 shows the two pilot study locations. The shaded area along N. Forsythe St. and Hamilton Ave. represent the approximate boundaries of the VOC plume at the time of the PlumeStop™ injections.

The pilot study found that the expected and hoped-for breakdown products were present (ethanes and ethenes), showing that there was a breakdown of PCE and TCE consistent with the results one would expect from using PlumeStop™. The selected PlumeStop™ mixture was made to produce an “abiotic” breakdown process, that is, the breakdown process did not rely on bacterial action to work. Amphenol evaluated the specific conditions at the Site such as the type of soil to select the mixture. 

Groundwater is Cleaner after Removal of Old Sewer and Surrounding Soil On-Site

During the 1960s through 1980s, a sanitary sewer line on the site was used to dispose of wastewater impacted with solvents from the former Bendix facility. The sanitary sewer line was connected to the sewer main on Hamilton Avenue. In November 2019, Amphenol removed the old sewer line on site, along with the surrounding soil (the sewer was originally abandoned in place in 1983 and replaced with a new line to the east). Following the sewer/soil remedy, routine groundwater monitoring showed that concentrations of VOCs in groundwater went down in monitoring well MW-12R, which is next to the old sewer area at the south end of the Site. Table 2 reports monitoring data from September 2019 to August 2020 in MW-12R. 

Graphic of Table 2 showing that starting in December 2019, TCE concentrations began to decrease and in January 2020 PCE concentrations started to decrease, as observed in MW-12R.Table 2 shows that starting in December 2019, TCE concentrations began to decrease and in January 2020 PCE concentrations started to decrease, as observed in MW-12R.

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Progress Summaries

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Franklin Power Products, Inc. and Amphenol Corp. conducted an environmental investigation and cleanup at their former Franklin, Ind. industrial facility under two Administrative Consent Orders issued by EPA’s RCRA Corrective Action program in 1990 and 1998.

EPA determined that a former owner and operator, Bendix Corp., released volitile organic compounds and other chemicals into the environment, including into on-site sewers which transported the contamination outside the property boundaries to the neighborhood south of the facility, prior to 1983.

The EPA’s orders required Franklin Power Products and Amphenol to investigate the releases of VOCs, including known carcinogens, to determine what was released and where it may have travelled, and to determine the potential health risks and environmental effects of the contamination. A sewer line found to be contaminated was replaced and contaminated soil was removed from a source area on-site. EPA also required the companies to construct and operate clean-up measures, including a groundwater pump-and-treat system, which has been in operation since 1995. EPA continues to oversee performance of this cleanup.

Webb Well Field, an Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) State Cleanup Program site, is located about ¾-mile north of the Amphenol site. Both sites are in Johnson County. Two of three supply wells in the former municipal water well field were found to be contaminated with volatile organic compounds; these were taken off-line by 2007.  The third supply well was decommissioned in 2013.  In 2007, Amphenol investigated possible migration of VOC-contaminated groundwater from its site to the Webb Well Field. Amphenol provided a groundwater particle tracking study to EPA to demonstrate that the VOC contamination found in the two impacted supply wells did not come from its facility. EPA determined that the evidence supported their position.  For information, see IDEM web pageExit

In July, 2018 Edison Wetlands Association and the “If It Was Your Child” organization raised concerns to EPA and IDEM about volatile organic compounds seeping into homes near the Amphenol/Franklin Power Products and Webb Well Field sites in Franklin. EPA will require that Amphenol Corp. investigate groundwater conditions and complete a comprehensive investigation of “vapor Intrusion” in the residential area near the site. EPA will oversee the investigation. EPA is coordinating closely with the State of Indiana and federal agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and will follow up with the community as more information becomes available.

Edison Wetlands Association also raised concerns about the potential for intrusion of radon gas at homes in Franklin. Radon is naturally occurring. Exposure to radon can result in adverse health effects. Residents can hire an Indiana-licensed professional to test their homes for radon and install a mitigation system if needed. For more information:

EPA joined Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana Department of Public Health and the federal agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at an Aug. 3 2018 public meeting in Franklin, Ind.

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Vapor Intrusion Updates

Nov. 27, 2018

Vapor intrusion (VI) occurs when vapor-forming chemicals from an underground source move into a building.  A VI investigation follows a potential path of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from the source of the chemical (for example, a spill or release to the ground) to potential exposure indoors.  VOCs often migrate in groundwater and can also travel along a pathway such as a sewer or utility trench.

Under EPA oversight, Amphenol Corp. is completing a vapor intrusion (VI) investigation in the neighborhood south of the former Amphenol facility.  See the aerial view of the off-site vapor intrusion study area.

The VI investigation is based on historical data that show migration of VOCs from the former Franklin Power Products/Amphenol Corporation Site into the residential area through groundwater and sewer lines.  The purpose of this investigation is to determine whether remaining contamination reaches the indoor air of homes and poses risk to occupants.

The VI investigation at Amphenol includes sampling VOC sewer gas, sewer backfill (bedding) gas, groundwater, and indoor air of homes.  To speed up the investigation, soil gas was sampled along streets within the city of Franklin rights of way (ROWs).  Where soil gas was elevated above vapor intrusion screening levels in the ROW, the nearby homes were put on the list for indoor air sampling (priority homes list).  30 sewer manholes were sampled in the study area to determine if VOC contamination was present at elevated levels.  VOCs were elevated along Forsythe Street and parts of Hamilton Ave. Where sewer gas was elevated above safe indoor air levels, the nearby homes were added to the priority homes list. Where groundwater was elevated above vapor intrusion screening levels, nearby homes were added to the priority homes list.

For the results of the VI investigation, see Groundwater Documents and Maps, Sewer Gas Documents and Maps and Soil Gas Documents and Maps.

Per the investigation steps, where groundwater, soil gas, and sewer line samples exceed applicable screening levels, the investigation proceeds to sampling beneath and/or within nearby homes.  As of November 27, 2018, 37 homes are on the “priority homes” list for indoor air sampling.  Results of vapor intrusion indoor air sampling are private and shared with the residents.

Based on evaluation of the data from this investigation, the study area may be expanded.

  • The week of September 16, 2018, two or more additional priority homes will be sampled for sub-slab soil gas, sewer gas, indoor air, and ambient air.  
  • On September 13, 2018, Amphenol began sewer gas sampling in the study area following the EPA approval of its Sewer Gas Vapor Intrusion Investigation Work Plan, Franklin Power Products, Inc./Amphenol Corporation, dated September 10, 2018.
  • The week of September 9, 2018, Amphenol began preparing for the sewer gas sampling in coordination with EPA.
  • The week of September 9, 2018, residents in the Study Area received “door hangers” alerting them to sampling activity in the neighborhood.
  • On September 4, 2018, Amphenol began sampling soil gas, ambient air, and indoor air at the first of approximately nine priority homes near the facility.  Home sampling is contingent upon access agreements with homeowners and residents. 
  • On August 30, 2018, EPA asked Amphenol Corp. to submit a work plan describing the VI investigation approach. With EPA concurrence, Amphenol has been submitting separate work plans for the different sampling components, to expedite the investigation.

Sewer Vapor Migration Pathway

Elevated VOC vapors have been found in manholes in the sanitary sewer lines along streets in the Amphenol Study Area.  Sewer vapors can travel from the sewer lines into homes via the pipes that connect a home’s sewer system to the main sewer line.  The connection pipes are called “sewer laterals.”   All homes near sewer lines contaminated with VOC vapors were added to the list of homes needing indoor air sampling for contaminants, including VOC vapor in the sewer lateral.

Where vapors are elevated in the sewer laterals, Amphenol performs pressure tests in the associated homes to determine whether the plumbing system is sealed.  Amphenol looks for leaks by pumping a  vapor mist with a citrus aroma into the pipe.  If mist or citrus aroma odor is observed, then Amphenol uses a plumbing contractor to repair the  fixture. Here are examples of some of the issues found and repairs made to correct vapor leaks in the plumbing system: 

  • Old water softener lines that were not sealed when disconnected and replaced were capped.
  • Sewer line exhaust that vented inside an attic was rerouted to vent outside the home.
  • Vapor leaks observed around toilet flanges were replaced and the toilets reset.
  • A portion of the main sewer line under a home was an entry point for a bathtub drain.  The sewer lateral was cracked and no longer vapor-tight.  The cracked pipe was removed and replaced with a new PVC fitting. 
  • Leaking sanitary lines were sealed at the slab entry point and other joints.
  • Vapor leaks observed in unused toilets/shower drains with dry P-traps were sealed with an expandable plug.
  • Plumbing vents beneath sinks and at other interior locations were sealed.
  • A sewer lateral was relocated, and an exterior sewer cleanout installed to adequately pressurize the plumbing system.
  • Sump pits were sealed with an appropriate sump lid.
  • One-way specialized plugs in floor drains were installed to allow water to drain and prevent vapors from entering.
  • Unfinished walls were sealed where an interior room was in direct communication with a crawlspace.

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Air Sampling Updates

  • On August 3, 2018 Amphenol installed a filter (vapor carbon system) on the emissions pipe to virtually eliminate its VOC emissions.
  • Under supervision by EPA and IDEM, Amphenol collected 8-hour ambient (outdoor) air samples from six locations around the boundary of its site on July 26, 2018. A laboratory analyzed the samples and an independent data validation company has checked the results.  These samples were analyzed for the nine volatile organic compound (VOC) chemicals associated with the historic releases from the former Amphenol site.  Results at the fence line indicated that outdoor air concentrations of VOCs are below EPA’s health-based screening levels for residential exposure.
  • The emissions pipe at the groundwater recovery air stripping system was also sampled. Emissions were measured at a rate of approximately 8 pounds total VOCs per year. To put this in perspective, IDEM would issue an air permit for this system only if the air emissions reached at least 2,000 pounds per year.

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