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Congressional District # 08


EPA ID# INN000508142
Last Updated: July, 2012

Site Description

The Jacobsville Neighborhood Soil Contamination (Jacobsville) Superfund site is located in Evansville, Indiana.  Soil became contaminated with lead and arsenic due to emissions from former foundries and other factories in the area.  The site is divided into two phases, or operable units (OU), and encompasses a larger area than just the Jacobsville neighborhood of Evansville.  The first operable unit (OU1) is roughly bounded by the Lloyd Expressway to the south, Mary Street to the west, Iowa Street to the north, and Elliot Street to the east.  OU1 encompasses 141 acres and includes approximately 500 residential properties.  The second operable unit (OU2) extends outward from OU1 and covers approximately 4.5 square miles. The OU1 area is the location where the former factories and foundries that are thought to be the source of the contamination were located.  Operations of some of these companies date back as far as the 1880s, but all had ceased operating by the 1950s. 

The site was placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) on July 22, 2004.

Site Responsibility

The Jacobsville Neighborhood Soil Contamination site is being addressed through federal and state actions.

Threats and Contaminants

Lead levels above the site cleanup level of 400 parts per million (ppm) were found in residential soils in both OU1 and OU2 at the Jacobsville site.  Lead is harmful to people because it can cause high blood pressure, digestive problems, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain.  Exposure to lead is particularly dangerous for pregnant women as lead can cause premature birth, low birth weight, or miscarriage.  Children are especially at risk because they are more likely than adults to swallow dirt that contains lead, and they are more sensitive to the effects of lead.  Lead exposure in children has been shown to decrease IQ scores, slow growth and cause hearing problems.

Arsenic levels above the site cleanup level of 30 ppm have been found in soils at properties within the Jacobsville site area, although at a much lower frequency than lead exceedences.  Exposure to low levels of arsenic can cause nausea and vomiting, damage to blood vessels, and a sensation of "pins and needles" in hands and feet.  Ingesting or breathing low levels of arsenic for a long time can cause a darkening of the skin and the appearance of small corns or warts on the palms, soles, and torso.  Skin contact with arsenic may cause redness and swelling.  Several studies have shown that exposure to high levels of arsenic can increase the risk of several types of cancer.

Cleanup Progress

To address a number of highly-contaminated properties prior to selection of the final cleanup plan, EPA undertook a Superfund emergency removal action from September 2007 through April 2008.  During this action, 83 residential properties with lead levels in the soil above 1200 ppm were cleaned up.  After a final cleanup plan was slected, EPA began the cleanup of 263 properties within the OU1 boundary in April 2010 and completed it in October 2010.  This remedial action was funded with over $5 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding, which allowed the cleanup to be completed on an expedited schedule.  An additional 20 properties in OU1 were cleaned up in 2011.  In April 2012, EPA began the cleanup of the first phase of OU2.  More information about the events and investigations leading up to the current cleanup is below.

Between the listing of the site on the NPL in 2004 and 2006, U.S. EPA conducted six rounds of soil sampling to determine how far the contamination extended.  A Remedial Investigation report for the entire site was completed in September 2006, and a Feasibility Study report for OU1 was completed in January 2007.  A bioavailability study, which is a study of how much of the lead at the site is likely to be absorbed by humans, was completed in January 2008.  The reports and studies explained the contamination and the risks posed by arsenic and lead, as well as possible ways to clean up the site.

Early in 2007, U.S. EPA presented its Proposed Plan to the public for the cleanup approach for OU1.  The comment period, during which residents, local governments, and other stakeholders had the opportunity to comment on U.S. EPA's preferred plan, ended on February 28, 2007.  After completing the bioavailability study, discussed above, U.S. EPA signed the Record of Decision (ROD) for OU1 on February 14, 2008.  The remedy selected for OU1 in the ROD consists of excavating the contaminated soils at residential properties and restoring the properties to original conditions.

A Feasibility Study report for OU2 was completed in June 2008.  The primary difference between OU1 and OU2 is the size of the areas.  OU1 is about 7 square blocks in area, and OU2 is 4.5 square miles in area.  Due to the scope and cost of the remediation for the larger OU2 area, the cleanup options underwent an extensive review by U.S. EPA.  U.S EPA presented its Proposed Plan to the public for cleaning up OU2 in June 2009, and the public comment period was from June 11, 2009, through July 10, 2009.  U.S. EPA published its final decision on the OU2 remedy in a ROD signed on September 22, 2009.  The cleanup selected for OU2 is essentially the same as the one selected for OU1 - excavation of contaminated soil in residential yards, backfilling with clean fill, and restoration of the properties to as close to original condition as possible.

The remedial design work for the first phase of OU2 began in July 2010, and the designs were completed in March 2011.  Sampling for the second phase of OU2 work was completed in March 2012.   

Success Story

Cleanup of 263 homes in OU1 was completed in October 2010.  Ratings from residents on evaluation forms averaged 9.4 out of 10.  Some of the comments by residents on the evaluation forms included: "We appreciate the precise manner they used when working on our property"; "I can't say enough good things about the entire crew"; "very good and hard workers"; "polite and professional"; "The crew were amazing in every way"; "Thanks for a great job and a great crew"; and "They were the most efficient group of contractors I've ever met."

During the OU1 cleanup, over 27 people were employed by U.S. EPA and its contractors, including 10 local hires, along with nine additional local hires during the peak part of the work in July and August.  The community also benefited when the cleanup subcontractor decided to hold a 40-hour OSHA health and safety training course in the neighborhood.  Over 350 applications for the training class were received, and the 49 residents who were selected received the 40-hour certificate.  Of the 49 people who received the certificate, 37 were hired by the U.S. EPA subcontractor.  The 18 new hires who did not work on the Jacobsville site were assigned to other projects across the nation.

On October 12, 2010, Craig Hooks, EPA’s Senior Accountable Official for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, attended a celebration for the completion of the first phase of the cleanup.  The soil sampling and design work for the next phase of the cleanup -- OU2 -- began in 2010.  Designs for 470 homes were completed in 2011.  State and federal funding for the cleanup of these homes in OU2 was secured in September 2011, and work on these properties began in April 2012.

In anticipation of the 2012 cleanup work, U.S. EPA held a job training program, called the Superfund Job Training Initiative (SuperJTI), in the community.  Of the twenty graduates who received the training certificate, twelve were hired to work on the cleanup.

Community Involvement

A Community Involvement Plan has been created and is available to the public at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library, Central Branch.  U.S. EPA has held many public meetings and information sessions since the site was listed on the NPL and has also attended several meetings with local organizations.  Public meetings and availability sessions were held in February 2010, September 2010, and March 2012 to inform residents about the upcoming cleanups, help them understand what it would mean to them, and allow property owners whose yards had been sampled to ask questions.  In October 2010, U.S. EPA held a closing ceremony on a vacant lot in the Jacobsville neighborhood to celebrate the completion of the cleanup of 263 homes in OU1.

During 2010, U.S. EPA also worked with students at the University of Southern Indiana on class projects that involved understanding the community aspects of the cleanup and helping to inform residents about the work.  In addition, in 2010, 2011, and 2012 U.S. EPA participated in local Earth Day events at the Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, as well as at a local hospital.  

Congressional Interest

There has been interest in this site by the local U.S. Congressman and both U.S. Senators that represent Indiana. 

Property Reuse

The cleanup of two vacant lots in the Jacobsville neighborhood has allowed a local non-profit organization, ECHO Housing Corporation, to receive grant money to construct a 26-unit residential building for homeless and disabled veterans in the state of Indiana on the properties.  ECHO Housing Corporation, whose mission is to provide affordable housing to the homeless, broke ground on the development in July 2010.  After construction was completed in mid-2011, the first residents moved in during November 2011.  In alignment with the organization's "Housing, Help and Hope" objectives, the development includes a community room for meetings and educational seminars and provides wireless access to assist residents with employment applications and job training.

The city of Evansville also has a number of projects on-going to reuse cleaned up property.  U.S. EPA is working with Evansville's Department of Metro Development to coordinate cleanups of properties that will be reused.


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
mary tierney (tierney.mary@epa.gov)
(312) 886-4785





Site Profile Information

This profile provides you with information on EPA's cleanup progress at this Superfund site.


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