FRANKLIN, Ind. - Mayor Steve Barnett told FOX59 shortly after we arrived, "This is a great day in Franklin."
Amphenol's project, under direction of the Environmental Protection Agency and IWM Consulting, began Tuesday and will ultimately replace the old, porous, cracked, contaminated sewer line along a portion of Forsythe Street and Hamilton Avenue.
The EPA determined the Bendix Corp., who owned the facility before Amphenol, released volatile organic compounds and other chemicals into the environment, including into on-site sewers. Because of that, those chemicals were transported outside the property boundaries and into the neighborhoods south of the site.
CrossRoad Engineers, selected by the City of Franklin according to the EPA, began sewer replacement work. The work is expected to continue until November, the mayor said.
"A year ago, it was brought to our attention, and it's real important for us to have a clean environment for our community," Barnett said. "That's something that my administration is dedicated to doing."
On the site, neighbors will see a lot of big machines and bins. One of the main devices is the air monitoring system. The EPA reported the air will be monitored continuously around the work area during the excavation of the contaminated soil. The EPA will be notified immediately if something is unsafe in the air, and work will be temporarily stopped until the readings are above the EPA-approved levels.
"We've been on weekly phone conferences with the EPA for nine months now," Barnett said. "I'm very confident that the EPA knows what they're doing."
There is also a large bin on the site where contaminated soil is being held. The EPA said the material will be tested and then disposed at an approved landfill within a few days. Plus, there are large tanks near the excavation for contaminated groundwater to go. Mayor Barnett said this groundwater is not related to drinking water.
The EPA told FOX59 a couple weeks ago they have a plan in place to get all of the contaminated material removed.
"If it's possible, when they have the trench open, they'll just chase the contamination and continue to remove the materials," said Joe Cisneros, the chief of remediation branch at EPA Region 5. "If they do happen to not get the results until after a trench has been closed for whatever reason, we will require them to go back and remove that material."
According to the EPA, Edison Wetlands Association and the If It Was Your Child organization brought their concerns to the EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management about volatile organic compounds seeping into homes near the former Amphenol/Franklin Power Products and Webb Well Field sites in July of 2018. EPA mandated Amphenol Corp. investigate the groundwater conditions and any vapor intrusion in the area near the site.
During a June 6 public meeting, the EPA detailed a portion of the investigation. The EPA identified 42 homes for indoor air testing. Of those homes, 30 households allowed the EPA to come in and test while 15 had remediation work done.
The EPA says they found elevated levels in five homes, elevated levels from sewer gas in two, elevated levels from soil gas in one home, elevated levels of soil and sewer gas in two and six homes with elevated levels of sub-slab or outdoor soil gas.
For sewer lines, the EPA reported that nine homes needed plumbing system repairs to prevent the hazardous vapors from coming in. They have repaired all of them.