The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Eaton Corporation are pleased to announce that groundwater remediation efforts have successfully reduced off-site contamination of trichloroethylene (TCE) at the Kearney, Neb., facility. Eaton conducted the remediation as part of a 2012 administrative consent order between EPA and Eaton.
Sample analyses have confirmed that remaining levels of off-site TCE no longer exceed the EPA maximum contaminant level (MCL) for drinking water.
Eaton began conducting groundwater extraction and treatment to address TCE contamination in 1990, after becoming aware of a groundwater contaminant plume that resulted from degraded piping associated with a former TCE product tank. At one point, the plume extended approximately 4.5 miles from Eaton’s facility.
The 2012 administrative consent order with EPA resulted in Eaton placing additional extraction wells in the off-site portion of the plume. These wells were operated until the off-site monitoring wells demonstrated that the TCE levels were consistently (3 sampling events over 12 months) below the MCL. The on-site extraction wells will continue to operate and the on-site levels of TCE are approaching the MCL.
Now that off-site groundwater cleanup objectives have been met, EPA and Eaton have agreed to reduce groundwater monitoring and remediation requirements originally required as part of the administrative consent order for the Eaton facility. As part of the agreed changes, the off-site remediation system can be removed, and monitoring of the system and its associated wells will end. Additionally, Eaton can now offer ownership of the groundwater extraction wells EW-3 and EW-4 to current landowners for irrigation use, or Eaton can close them in accordance with state requirements.
Eaton will continue groundwater remediation and monitoring for on-site contamination. While TCE levels on-site have significantly diminished from years past, concentrations remain above, but are approaching, the drinking water MCL.
EPA, in coordination with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, has determined that these changes meet federal and state regulatory requirements and are protective of human health and the environment.
The Eaton facility occupies approximately 57 acres along East Highway 30. Since 1969, Eaton has owned the facility and has operated its Engine Component Division Plant, where it manufactures heavy-duty engine valves and gears.