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The Carter-Lee Lumber Company site is at 1621 West Washington Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. The portion of the site investigated is about 4 acres in size and is directly south of the parcel of land that contains the original main plant and offices of Carter-Lee Lumber. The main contaminants of concern are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, lead, and arsenic. Community concerns include the safety of children who play in soil taken from the site, and the safety of eating vegetables grown in soil taken from the site.

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) concludes that this site is no apparent public health hazard because no one is being exposed to contaminants from the site. Future exposures to contaminated media are not likely to occur. Data are available for all environmental media to which humans are being exposed, and no contaminants are present at levels of health concern in dirt taken from the site for gardens. People do not have private wells that could be affected by site contamination. No community-specific health outcome data are available that indicate the site has had an adverse impact on human health. Comparative analyses of off-site and on-site soil samples suggest possible regional contamination with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons because of the industrialized location of the site.

In accordance with ATSDR guidelines, ISDH recommends the following actions: 1) implement deed restrictions for future residential use of this site and for the use of private wells in this area; 2) transport on-site drums to an appropriate waste handling facility for destruction or storage; and 3) when indicated by public health needs, evaluate additional soil samples, relevant health outcome data, and community health concerns.

In accordance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as amended, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and ISDH have evaluated this site for appropriate health follow-up activities. Because community concerns about the site have been expressed, appropriate health follow-up activities include community health education. ISDH will conduct site-specific environmental health education in the community to explain health risks from site contaminants and other contaminants in the area and will involve the Marion County Health Department in those education efforts.


A. Site Description and History

The Carter-Lee Lumber Company (CLL) site is at 1621 West Washington Street in Indianapolis, Indiana (Marion County, Center Township). The portion of the site investigated is about 4 acres in size, and is directly south of the parcel of land that contains the original main plant and offices of CLL (see Figure 1). Reichwein Street residences border the west side; Conrail railroad tracks border the south and east sides; and original CLL property that is not included as the site borders the north.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Carter-Lee Lumber Company Site Map

Lumber and materials are stored on the site in three sheds (building numbers 1, 3, and 4). The site was previously owned by the Penn Central Corporation and sold to Carter-Lee Lumber Company in 1979 to expand operations. Beginning in 1969, the Penn Central Company, a predecessor to Penn Central Corporation, leased the site to Unver Trucking Company, and Unver and its lessees later entered into various lease agreements with Central Line Corporation, R & V Trucking, and R & V Services so that the lessees could use the area for land application of neutralized calcium ferrosulfate (spent sulfuric acid pickling liquor) from various reported manufacturers in the area including Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Corporation, General Motors (Delco Electronics and Detroit Diesel Allison), and LTV Steel (Jones and Laughlin Steel). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) interviewed representatives of those parties and confirmed that neutralized metal plating sludge and pickling liquor had been hauled to the CLL site by Central Line and others.

From 1971 to 1972, tankers from Central Line and others sprayed a red liquid onto the property immediately south of the original CLL property. A neighbor reported observing the red liquid being sprayed during this time period. The neighbor, believing the red soil to be beneficial as a soil amendment for her vegetable garden, collected some of it from the spray area.

Witnesses also reported dumping at CLL, but those reports have not yet been substantiated. Those witnesses also saw railroad cars, which had liquid draining into ditches, adjacent to the tracks on the south side of the site and oily filter cakes disposed on the site.

From the middle 1940s until 1985, CLL operated a small quantity, batch-load wood preserving operation immediately off site, north of the northeast corner. The small, single-batch operation used consumer-grade pentachlorophenol.

In 1981, CLL began developing the site to expand its lumber storage capacity. At that time, the site was cleaned, and a trench was excavated at the southeast corner to place debris and brush. This enabled paving and construction of the site. The excavation contractor reported the trench to be 10 feet deep by 30 feet wide and 70 feet long.

In 1983, a 1- to 6-inch thick layer of red soil was encountered during clearing for the construction of Building No. 3. In 1984, during construction of Building No. 4, more red soil was encountered. The red soils encountered in 1983 and 1984 were collected and stockpiled near the trench that was dug in 1981.

In 1987, CLL, under advice from its consultant, re-spread the stockpiled red soil over an area covering about 220 feet by 250 feet at the southeast corner of the property. The volume of red soil has been estimated to be 80 cubic yards. The material was covered with 6 inches of top soil and 6 inches of gravel, and represents the current condition of the site.

In July 1985, EPA collected soil samples from areas representative of the former trench, stockpiled red soils, and the reported original red sludge application area. The analytical results from these samples indicated the presence of heavy metals and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). Following the EPA investigation, the site was scored using the Hazard Ranking System (HRS).

The HRS report summarized in the Remedial Investigation Report (May 1995) indicated that the potential exists for the groundwater to be affected by the materials at the site (1). A Preliminary Health Assessment (2) for the site was released by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in September 1990. ATSDR concluded that the site posed a potential public health hazard because of the potential risk to human health resulting from possible exposure to hazardous substances at concentrations that may result in adverse human health effects (2).

This document is an update to the Preliminary Public Health Assessment (Sept. 1990) that presents an evaluation of environmental data available for the site as of January 1996.

B. Site Visit

On June 2, 1995, Ms. Dollis Wright and Mr. Garry Mills of ISDH conducted a site visit. Staff from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and a representative of the Carter-Lee Lumber Company were also present. We made the following observations during the site visit:

  1. Access to the Carter-Lee Lumber Company property and the contaminated portion of the site is limited by a chain-link fence, and guard dog signs are posted. The business has a stop point check-in for customers during operating hours.
  2. The area around the Carter-Lee Lumber Company property is composed of industry, small businesses, and residences.
  3. The contaminated portion of the property has a rock and gravel covering and is used for temporary lumber storage.
  4. We located and inspected monitoring wells 1, 3, 4, and 5.
  5. Approximately 30 barrels are on the contaminated portion of the property. Some of the barrels were empty; some contained water or soil from the soil borings conducted during the Remedial Investigation (RI).
  6. A ditch runs around the contaminated portion of the site. Some areas of the ditch contained standing water.
  7. Some vegetation grows on the site along the fence line.

Site conditions have not appreciably changed since the last site visit.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

The CLL site is within the commercial and industrial center of Indianapolis. There are 34,000 people within a 2-mile radius of the site. The closest residence is ½-mile away. There are schools, parks, playgrounds, and nursing homes within the 2-mile radius. The site is paved with asphalt except for the southeast corner of the property, which is covered with a 6-inch layer of compacted gravel. The setting is urban industrial, and the site is surrounded by industry. Drainage swales run parallel to the eastern and southern site boundaries to collect runoff from the southern portion of the site. Conrail railroad tracks are elevated along the eastern and southern boundaries as much as 6 to 8 feet above the site elevation. Surface runoff from the tracks drain into the swales along the site boundaries. The southeast corner of the property is the lowest elevation point on the site and is believed to be a surface runoff collection area for the site and portions of the Conrail tracks. The railroad berms prevent site drainage from spilling onto neighboring properties east and south of the site.

The site geology is characterized by a series of fill layers from about 12 inches below ground surface to a depth of 15 to 20 feet. The fill material varies across the site, but consists of sandy gravel and clayey silt with miscellaneous debris including bricks, concrete, and wood. Some areas of the site are filled with black, dense sand similar to a foundry sand mixed with what appears to be fly ash.

A water table encountered at about 20 to 25 feet below ground surface typically flows southeast. Through a summer of 1993 well user's survey, a cone of depression was identified southeast of the site, which may influence the site groundwater flow direction. Most of the wells within 1 mile of the site are used exclusively for manufacturing processes.

Marion County occasionally supplements its municipal supply with groundwater pumped from the same sandy aquifer monitored at the site. The municipal well field is about 7 miles south, downgradient of the CLL site.

White River, approximately 1,500 feet from the site, is the closest body of surface water. The closest drinking water well is approximately 3,500 feet west of and upgradient from the site.

D. Health Outcome Data

This subsection identifies the relevant, available health outcome databases. Evaluation of the databases is presented in the Public Health Implications section of this document. Cancer may be a plausible health outcome if long-term exposure to arsenic, and possibly PAHs, were ever identified. ISDH maintains a statewide cancer registry; however, data regarding cancer incidence by city and county are not yet available. In addition, ISDH maintains a mortality database by county. Mortality data on Marion County cancer deaths are available (1950-1989).


ISDH has not received any reports directly from residents concerning health concerns, but IDEM reported that people asked:

  1. I took soil from the site for my garden. My children may have been exposed to this dirt. Should I be concerned?
  2. Is it safe to eat vegetables grown in soil taken from this site?

These concerns are addressed in the Public Health Implications section.

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