EPA begins cleanup of toxic south-side commercial property

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The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced it has begun cleaning up a south-side Indianapolis property that has been soaked in hazardous waste for decades.

The 1.35-acre property at 2340 S. Tibbs Ave., known as the AA Oil Site, has been abandoned since 1993.

The Marion County Auditor took title to the property in 2016 through a property tax lien and transferred it to the Department of Metropolitan Development for a fee of $600. It was referred to the EPA for clean up after a review by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The city would like to see the property be redeveloped after cleanup is completed.

The site, which is across the street from Rolls-Royce Plant No. 5, contains six above-ground storage tanks and a 1,782-square-foot warehouse that was built in 1949.

AA Oil, a division of Cam-Or Inc., operated an oil-collection, storage and transfer facility at the site from the 1950s into the 1980s. AA Oil collected oil from garages, gas stations, oil-change facilities, auto dealers and trucking companies and stored it at the facility, the EPA said.

The waste oil was shipped from the local facility to the Westville Oil (later Cam-Or) facility in the northwest Indiana town of Westville, where oil was re-refined for use in automotive and industrial lubricating oil blends.

The Westville Cam-Or facility was named a Superfund site in 1987 and placed on the National Priorities List in 1998. Thirteen companies agreed to $14.4 million settlement over the Cam-Or site in 2010 to help pay for cleanup.

The Indianapolis site was acquired by Indy Investments Co. in 1990 and was operated from 1990 to 1993 by PWI Environmental, a hazardous materials/spill response contractor, then abandoned.

The EPA estimates it will take 60 days to clean the site. The project involves removing hazardous substances including lead, pesticides and trichloroethene contained in above-ground storage tanks and dismantling and decontaminating those tanks.

After tanks are removed, contamination in surface soil and concrete will also be removed. Hazardous substances, including endrin, lead, polychlorinated biphenyls and trichloroethene are present in surface soil, subsurface soil, groundwater and soil gas, the EPA said.

The EPA did not provide an estimate for how much the project would cost.

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