Over the past 3 years Mundell & Associates has been a part of a historic collaborative environmental effort between Delaware County, IN officials and local citizens. The area of interest is Muncie’s South Industria Center, where for years citizens have been concerned with environmental conditions due to the long history of industrial activity in the area.
In 2020, local officials had met with concerned residents to gather thoughts on what the County should be doing in the area to address any historical contamination that may be present and to prevent future environmental problems. Mundell was contacted to complete a large-scale review of historic and environmental conditions surrounding the Industria center. After this initial report, the County gave the green light to continue the investigation. Mundell executed 6 sampling and analysis plans (SAPs) (developed in the initial report) to address potential concerns and identify the presence or absence of any area-wide environmental impacts.
Summary of Phase II Investigation Results
The final report of these Phase II activities was completed and presented to the Delaware County Redevelopment Commission in December 2022. Analytical results of soil, sediment, and surface water samples did not find any area-wide heavy metal contamination, volatile organic compound (VOC) contamination, or downstream leaching or migration of heavy metal or VOC contamination in the vicinity of the Industria Center’s Southwest Drainage Basin and area surrounding a historical landfill.
Surficial soil samples were also collected to address potential concerns related to historic atmospheric deposition of heavy metals surrounding the Industria Center. The results did not reveal the presence of a consistent, area-wide heavy metal contamination above applicable residential screening levels pertaining to public health in the areas adjacent to the Industria Center. However, trends of elevated surficial soil lead concentrations as compared to published urban background levels in Indiana were found to the northeast of the Industria Center which is downwind of the Industria Center and also closer to the center of Muncie. While elevated, these average lead concentrations to the northeast were similar to or less than results found in other urban regions across the county and were still generally below the residential screening levels pertaining to human health exposure criteria.
As another aspect of the project, groundwater grab samples were collected from private wells and analyzed for heavy metals and VOC’s, with a portion of samples analyzed for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) or per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS ). Only lead was detected above the applicable residential groundwater tap screening levels, which occurred at less than half of the wells sampled. After careful consideration of the results, it appeared that in the handful of homes with elevated lead water samples, the lead exceedances were more indicative of lead from corrosion in piping and the private well water distribution systems as compared to a groundwater lead plume. However, Mundell recommended additional private well sampling to help determine the source of lead detections in the private wells.
In addition, Mundell encouraged the county to conduct community outreach with regards to two environmental concerns identified in the report – the potential for increased surficial soil lead concentrations in urban regions and lead levels in drinking water of homes relying on private wells. Households relying on private wells tend to have an increased risk of high lead in drinking water as compared to municipally supplied households due to the lack of treatment/monitoring, groundwater corrosivity, and pipe corrosion.
A Model for the Future
Mundell has been impressed with the collaborative efforts between the citizens and the local government throughout the project.
“This program is one of the first I know where there’s been a joint effort between the county, gaining input with citizens and monitoring the area jointly,” said John Mundell, President of Mundell & Associates in an interview with Muncie reporter Keith Roysdon. “We see this as a model going forward of working with the citizens of a community. The county is showing foresight in protecting their citizens.”
In the coming months, more testing will be completed on homes where lead was found in residential wells. “The next phase is important and kudos to the county for recognizing this is an issue to get a handle on it,” Mundell said.
James King, president of the Delaware County Redevelopment Commission and a Delaware County commissioner, also commented on the importance of making sure citizens are safe – “Testing of former and current industrial areas to ensure the health of our constituents is an important part of what we do.”
Read the full or view media coverage from the 765 Business Journal.