Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content




The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) requested that the Indiana StateDepartment of Health (ISDH) review private well sampling data from the surroundingneighborhood (within a 1-mile radius) of the Continental Steel Superfund Site. ATSDR furtherasked that the review include appropriate recommendations to protect human health. Consequently,this health consultation evaluates and addresses any potential human exposures from the private welldata currently available.

The Continental Steel Corporation Superfund site is on West Markland Avenue in the city ofKokomo, Howard County, Indiana. The entire site encompasses about 145 acres and consists of anabandoned steel manufacturing facility (Main Plant), a pickling liquor treatment lagoon (LagoonArea), a former waste disposal area (Markland Avenue Quarry), and a former waste disposal andSlag Processing Area.

The area surrounding the site is mixed residential, commercial, and industrial. The area is zoned forgeneral use, except for the Main Plant, which has an industrial-use-only deed covenant. Residentialproperties are to the east of the Main Plant; to the north and west are a mix of residential andindustrial properties, and industrial properties are to the south. The closest residents to the site arewithin 100 feet east of the site near the property fence along South Leeds Street, and south of theMain Plant across Kokomo Creek. Highland Park, a public recreation area for area residents, liessouth of the Main Plant across Kokomo Creek (1).

The Main Plant Area consisted of about 80 acres and included abandoned buildings with floor areasranging from 10,000 to 400,000 square feet. Many buildings had sublevels, some of which wereflooded with groundwater. In the Main Plant area, the abandoned buildings and structures havesince been taken down and the debris removed per the September 1998 Record of Decision (ROD).The groundwater in the lower level of the buildings has been removed, and the lower level has beenfilled. Some processing equipment has also been removed from the facility. A network ofunderground sewers and utility lines remains on site.

The plant used scrap metal to produce nails, wire, and wire fence. Operations included reheating,casting, rolling, drawing, pickling, annealing, hot-dip galvanizing, tinning, and oil tempering. Thesemanufacturing operations included the use, handling, treatment, storage and disposal of hazardousmaterials.

Waste pickle liquors, used to remove byproducts such as scale and rust from cooling steel, werestored in the Lagoon Area. Between 1984-1986, the Indiana Department of EnvironmentalManagement (IDEM) identified chromium, cadmium, lead, and iron in the on-site groundwater. TheContinental Steel Corporation filed for bankruptcy in 1985. The facility closed in February 1986.The site was formally placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) in March 1989.

Many investigations of the Markland Avenue Quarry and the Main Plant Area confirmed additionalcontamination attributable to the Continental Steel Corporation. The water in the quarry containedtraces of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and low levels of copper, zinc, and mercury. TheMain Plant Area was contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), baghouse dusts (a listedwaste containing chromium and lead), and sludge contaminated with trichlorethylene (TCE).Current contamination levels of the Markland Quarry and Main Plant area are unknown. TheMarkland Avenue Quarry and the Main Plant Area were proposed for aggregation to the site andwere added to the site in May 1990.

In August 1994, ISDH and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) issueda site review and update (SRU) for the site, and in September 1998 EPA issued a Record ofDecision (ROD) for the Continental Steel Superfund Site (2). As a result of that SRU and ROD thefollowing actions have been completed at the site:

  • More groundwater monitoring wells have been installed, including along Wabash streetin a residential area, and in various perimeters on and off site.

  • Lead dust has been removed from a residential area. This lead is contained on site in the soil located in slag processing area. A vegetative cover has been placed on top of the contaminated soil.

  • All physical structures have been removed except those in the Acid Lagoon area.

  • All or the majority of open pits have been filled, and groundwater has been removedfrom the pits.

  • All or the majority of the asbestos has been removed from the buildings, except those in Acid Lagoon, where the asbestos is below ground level.

  • The remedial investigation/feasability study has been completed. Site activities arecurrently in the remedial design phase.

  • To minimize contact with contamination, the lagoon area, the Markland Avenue Quarry,and the Main Plant area have been enclosed by a chain link security fence topped withbarbed wire.

  • Signs have been posted to warn the public about the contamination at the Site.

  • IDEM determined that site has not affected the public water supply of the Kokomo WasteWater Treatment Plant, nor does the Kokomo Waste Water Treatment affect themunicipal drinking water well field.

  • Residential drinking water wells in the area have been sampled, and one was found to be contaminated. A purifier was installed on this well; however, the residencesubsequently burned down. Any new structure built on the property would require thatthe owner connect to the public water supply (1, 4).

The 1998 ROD further concluded that the site-wide groundwater in the vicinity of Continental SteelCorporation has been contaminated with PCBs, VOCs, and heavy metals. The site-wide groundwaterincludes three separate groundwater zones. These are shallow, intermediate, and low bearing (deep)zones. Shallow groundwater is collected by extraction wells along the contaminated plumes. Thisshallow groundwater is then disposed off site at the Kokomo Wastewater Treatment Plant. Theintermediate and deeper groundwater zones are addressed by Martin Marietta's dewatering processand "cone of depression" created by that process (3).

In September 2001, ISDH staff and a staff member of IDEM conducted a site visit. A number of newgroundwater monitoring wells were observed. Wildlife was noted in the Quarry Pond area. The site iscurrently in the remedial design portion as part of the final remedy decision (3, 4).


Due to the past history of the site, ATSDR requested an investigation of private wells within a 1-mileradius of the site (Figure 1-GIS map). The November 1994 Remedial Investigation Report revealsthat 287 of the 6,480 addresses surveyed in the area use private residential wells. According to theinvestigation, 265 of those 287 wells are within Martin Marietta's cone of depression. This cone ofdepression created by monitoring wells allows the contaminated water from Continental Steel to bediverted from residential homes by means of the dewatering process. In addition, the geology of thearea and the general westward groundwater flow make it improbable, for 265 of the 287 privatewells surveyed, to be contaminated by the former Continental Steel Corporation. This leaves only 22private wells that could be of concern (See Table 2).

Of those, only one now-inactive private well within the 1-mile radius (Table 1) has been documentedas contaminated. The one, contaminated private well sample was collected in November 1993 byIDEM. The sample was analyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and metals. Laboratoryanalysis revealed the presence of two contaminants at levels above comparison values--that is,values used to select chemicals for further evaluation.

The chemicals were cis-1,2-dichloroethylene and trichloroethylene (TCE) (See Tables 1 and 2)(5).Those two chemicals are consistent with previous OU-1 (Operating Unit) on-site groundwatersamples taken in the 1980s and 1990s and support the September 1998 ROD to address on-sitegroundwater contamination (3). Regarding exposures, cis-1,2-dichloroethylene evaporates rapidlyinto air. People who use the contaminated well water have the potential for exposure to cis-1,2-dichloroethylene and TCE through direct skin contact, incidental ingestion, and inhalation of vapors,such as those released during showering (3). TCE was found at 7.9 parts per billion (ppb), exceedingthe EPA Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 5 ppb. Cis-1,2-dichloroethylene was present in thewell water at 110 ppb. EPA contractors continue to monitor groundwater contaminants (3).

ISDH has concluded, based on results of the Remedial Investigation--which included the residentialwell survey and sampling, the 1998 ROD, and ISDH's latest health consultation--that anindeterminate public health risk exists to the surrounding population. From the supporting data, lessthan 25 private wells are present in the 1-mile radius. Further, of those potential 25 wells, existingdata confirm only one residential well has been determined to be contaminated. As previously stated,that well is no longer active. An indeterminate public health risk has been determined, among othersupporting data, by the ROD statement that "the capture of contaminated groundwater by privatewells is unlikely, whether pumping from Martin Marietta Industries is operational or stopped." ISDHfurther concludes that the sampling data that currently exist are outdated and obsolete. The residential sampling results are 7 years old or more.

Table 1.

Residential Well Sample Results (2 & 3) Comparison Values
ContaminantMCLComparison ValueSampleTaken
Trichloroethylene5ppb5 ppb (MCL)7.9 ppb (t)
Cis 1,2 dichloroethylene70 ppb70 ppb (LTHA)110 ppb

MCL=Maximum Contaminant Level
LTHA=Lifetime Health Advisory for drinking water
t-lab results obtained from IDEM lab contractor


Based on the supporting data, ISDH concludes that an indeterminate public health risk exists forchildren. No current well water data are available to determine if any children are currently beingexposed to contamination in their drinking water. The Main Plant has been enclosed by a chain linksecurity fence with barbed wire, and all physical structures have been demolished and removed.Consequently, children are not likely to be exposed to any contamination that remain on the site (4).

Table 2.

Potential Exposure Pathway Element
PathwayNameSource Environ. MediumPoint ofExposureRoute ofExposureExposedPopulationTime
GroundwaterContinentalSteelgroundwaterprivatewellsIncidentalingestion,inhalation,direct contact50-75* past, present, future

*based on average household size in Indiana. (Census 2000)


ISDH has determined that Continental Steel poses an indeterminate public health hazard. Residentialwells are within a 1-mile radius, including some wells downgradient of the Continental Steel site.Current data are insufficient to determine if any of those wells have become contaminated. The latest residential well data are from the 1993-1995 Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study.


  • Survey and count the number of existing private residential wells within a 1-mile radius of the former Continental Steel Site.

  • Count those wells used for irrigation as well as for drinking and household purposes.

  • Sample those residential wells that are downgradient of the site. Sample for VOCs, PCBs, heavy metals, and pesticides.

  • Upon the completion of the survey and sampling provide ISDH with sampling results forevaluation.


Groundwater monitoring will continue, per the 1998 ROD for OU-1 site groundwater monitoring,based on the schedule of IDEM, its contractor, or both. As part of the Remedial Design phase, IDEMwill conduct residential well sampling.

ISDH will evaluate the well water data when sampling is complete.


Michael F. Wilkinson
Environmental Scientist 3
Environmental Epidemiology Section
Indiana State Department of Health


  1. Indiana State Department of Health. Health consultation concerning Continental Steel site. Indianapolis, IN; May 1997.

  2. Agency For Toxic Substances and Disease Registry/ISDH. Site review and update forContinental Steel. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services; August 1994.

  3. US Environmental Protection Agency. Interim remedy record of decision and responsiveness summary, main plant buildings for Continental Steel. Chicago, IL; May 1996.

  4. Indiana State Department of Health. Record of Continental Steel site visit with IDEM staff. Indianapolis, IN; September 2001.

  5. Laboratory sample data. November 1993.

  6. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Fact sheets for trichloroethylene and cis-1,2-dichloroethylene. Atlanta: Department of Health and Human Services; September 1997.

  7. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. PCB fact sheet. Atlanta: Department of Health and Human Services; February 2001.

Continental Steel Plant - Streets Within 1 Mile Buffer
Figure 1. Continental Steel Plant - Streets Within 1 Mile Buffer


This Continental Steel Health Consultation was prepared by the Indiana State Department of Health under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is in accordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the health consultation was begun.

Gail D. Godfrey
Technical Project Officer
Superfund Site Assessment Branch (SSAB)
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC)

The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this health consultation and concurs with its findings.

Roberta Erlwein

Table of Contents The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

A-Z Index

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #