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Settlement to Require Eaton Corporation to Address TCE Contamination at Vehicle Group Plant in Kearney, Neb.

Release Date: 01/12/2012
Contact Information: Dave Bryan, 913-551-7433,

Environmental News


(Kansas City, Kan., Jan. 12, 2012) - EPA Region 7 and the Eaton Corporation have reached a settlement through which the company has agreed to conduct certain activities to address trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination in groundwater at its Vehicle Group Plant and surrounding areas in Kearney, Neb.

Eaton Corporation has owned the 57-acre site at 4200 Highway 30 East, in Kearney, since 1969. TCE was used as a degreasing agent in the manufacture of automotive and heavy-duty engine valves and gears at the site.

TCE is a colorless liquid which is most commonly used as a solvent for cleaning metal parts. TCE is a known human carcinogen that has been found in concentrations in groundwater at and near the site that exceed the drinking water standard.

According to an administrative order on consent, placed on public notice today by EPA in Kansas City, Kan., TCE contamination in groundwater at the Eaton Corporation Vehicle Group Plant site in Kearney was first detected in 1986, the result of an apparent leak from underground storage tank lines. Since that time, the company has installed and modified a series of systems to extract TCE from groundwater at the site, and monitoring wells to track its movement underground.

Currently, Eaton Corporation operates two groundwater extraction systems – one on-site, another off-site – in an effort to contain the underground TCE plume. Contamination from the site has in the past impacted private drinking water supplies.

EPA’s administrative order on consent requires Eaton to operate and maintain on-site and off-site groundwater extraction systems to contain and reduce TCE contamination in the groundwater at and coming from the site. Operation of the extraction systems will continue as long as needed to prevent significant contaminant plume migration. The order also would require Eaton Corporation to conduct a review of the remedy’s performance after five years, submit a remedy completion report to EPA, and maintain a series of institutional controls at the site.

The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period. EPA will consider all comments received, and may modify or withdraw its consent to the settlement if comments disclose facts or considerations indicating the settlement is inappropriate, improper or inadequate. As provided by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, commenters may also request a public meeting to be held in the affected area.

Copies of the proposed order will be available for public inspection at the Kearney Public Library, 2020 1st Avenue, Kearney, Neb., 68847, and at the EPA Region 7 Records Center, 901 North 5th Street, Kansas City, Kan., 66101. A copy of the proposed settlement may also be obtained from the Regional Docket Clerk, EPA Region 7, 901 North 5th Street, Kansas City, Kan., 66101. Persons submitting comments should reference EPA Docket Number RCRA-07-2011-0024.

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