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Columbia City Testworth Laboratory Removal Site

Site Information
Contact Information

Community Involvement Coordinator
Virginia Narsete
(narsete.virginia@epa.gov)
312-886-4359 or 800-621-8431, ext. 64359

Remedial Project Manager
Theresa Holz (holz.theresa@epa.gov)
312-886-6845
or 800-621-8431, ext. 66845

 

Repositories

(where to view written records)

None available at this time.

Background

The Campbell family started Testworth Labs in 1941 and moved the business to the current facility in the 1950s. Testworth manufactured rubber-based adhesives, coatings, moldings and sealers. The Indiana Fire Marshall and Indiana Department of Environmental Management conducted inspections of the facility in 2006 and found around 3,000 drums – some leaking – and chemicals stored unsafely in the laboratory section. The state asked for EPA assistance, and the Agency issued a legal order telling Testworth to remove hazardous waste. The company complied and returned to operations but closed early last year by order of the Indiana State Fire Marshall.

State inspectors returned to the site in April 2010 and again found unsafe conditions that resulted in the facility’s shutdown. EPA responders then sampled and surveyed the substances in preparation for the current cleanup and removal project.

 

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Site Updates

March 2011

Over the next 10 to 12 weeks, contractors under the supervision of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be removing hazardous materials left behind when Testworth Laboratories Inc. closed last year. The EPA found numerous drums and other containers inside the unattended Testworth building holding flammable, corrosive and hazardous chemicals. Inspectors determined the potential for a fire or release was high. The site at 401 S. Main St. is in a mixed residential and commercial neighborhood with the nearest home only 180 feet away and the Blue River 50 feet away.

Because the state and local governments do not have the resources for a cleanup, Indiana officials asked the EPA to conduct what is called in legal terms a “time-critical removal action.” The EPA will use its emergency authority under federal law to perform the cleanup work and pay the estimated $700,000 cost because the Agency determined the site presents “an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health, welfare or the environment.” An inspection revealed signs of trespassing inside the Testworth building, and many of the containers were open or in poor condition. An accidental or intentional release could flow unstopped into the street and storm sewers and affect the Blue River.

Here is what residents can expect to see around the site as work starts up the first week of March and continues over the next three months. Contractors working for the EPA will be moving in equipment such as loaders, forklifts and an office trailer. Seven or eight people wearing protective gear will work inside the building packaging the hazardous material and loading it on trucks for transport to an off-site disposal facility.  Residents may see additional truck traffic in the area.

The cleanup should take about 60 workdays spread over 10 to12 weeks. Work will be suspended a few days during that period for training.

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