Environmental cleanup ongoing at former mill property

Environmental cleanup will continue at property that once served as the site of the Seymour Woolen Mill and later Seymour Electronics.

Brent Dayharsh, with environmental consultants Mundell and Associates in Indianapolis, reported to the Seymour Board of Works on Thursday the company had installed some wells to delineate and monitor a ground water contamination plume extending from the site on South Poplar Street.

“We’ve determined it extends out to about the junction with Tipton,” he said of the plume. “It has not been detected past those points.”

Permanent monitoring wells have been installed at further distances to allow Mundell to continue to monitor the plume to make sure it doesn’t grow, he said.

In the meantime, Dayharsh said they will begin to do remediation to eliminate the contaminants from the groundwater and shrink the plume.

“Now that we feel that we’ve taken care of the source area, we want to go ahead and try to treat the groundwater plume,” he said.

That process will take two to four years, and even then, the site will not be completely free of contaminants, he said.

The treatment consists of injecting an emulsified soybean oil into the groundwater.

“What this oil does is act as a food source for the bacteria that break down the chemicals in the groundwater,” Dayharsh said. “These bacteria need a low oxygen environment to thrive, and they need a carbon food source, so the vegetable oil provides both of those. We will monitor the success of the injections by the breakdown of the chemicals over the next couple of years.”

Dayharsh said the process has been used successfully a number of times in Indiana, including by Mundell.

The two-acre site was owned by Harrison Corp. until purchased by FarBur Investments for $250,000 in 2005.

Dayharsh said the first environmental investigation of the property began in 2006, when contaminants were discovered in the soil and later in the groundwater.

Initially, the main contaminant was petroleum, and then chlorinated solvents were found, Dayharsh said. The contamination was not determined to pose any imminent or long-term danger to neighbors, he said.

“We had previously done some cleanup of the soil onsite on the former location of the facility,” he said. “We did some excavation and thermal remediation of soils, and that was very successful. We are pleased with the results of those efforts.”

Dayharsh said new 1-inch diameter wells will be installed at several different points, both in public right of way and on private property temporarily to inject the soybean oil.

“Once the injections are done, we will go ahead and pull the wells out and refinish the surface to the original condition,” he said.

That work is expected to be conducted during a three-week period starting in November, he said.

Board of works member and city councilman Jim Rebber asked if the property could be developed now that the soil has been cleaned of contaminants.

Dayharsh said the property could be sold at this time and reused for another commercial operation or for a parking lot, even while groundwater monitoring continues.

“Obviously not residential,” he said.

But even that could change if the groundwater cleanup is successful, he said.

“There would be restrictions,” he said. “You couldn’t install groundwater wells on the property. But I think it’s not impossible at some point down the road to be used. It just needs to be retested to make sure it meets residential requirements.”

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.