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Indiana Harbor and Canal
Dredging and Disposal Project

CDF Site History

The Indiana Harbor and Canal (IHC) confined disposal facility (CDF) is located on the site of a former petroleum refinery.

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Location of the CDF site

The CDF is located at the property known as the former Energy Cooperative, Inc. (ECI) site located at 3500 Indianapolis Blvd in East Chicago, Indiana. The ECI property was the location of a petroleum products refinery from 1918 to 1981. The refinery operations included the production of mineral spirits, propane, leaded and unleaded gasoline, fuel oil, kerosene, asphalt and asphalt products, liquefied petroleum gas, grease, lubricating oils, paraffin wax, phenols, and sulfur.

The site contains a layer of oil on the groundwater, as well as lead and pesticides, left from the past refinery operation. A great deal of debris, buried pipelines, foundations and other objects remains below the surface of the site.

Land Use History

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ECI site in mid-1900's, an active refinery [Source: USACE]

Peak production at the petroleum refinery was approximately 140,000 barrels per day. The CDF project parcel, termed “the main refinery”, contained the principal production area; it included storage, a marine loading area, rail loading areas, insecticide manufacturing, truck docking facilities, and an American Petroleum Institute (API) separator.

Between 1940 and 1958, pyrethrum extract consisting of dried heads of certain varieties of chrysanthemums was filtered on site. The filtered extract was combined with kerosene and used as an insecticide base to produce insecticide. The maximum annual production of insecticide base occurred in 1944 when 49,359 barrels were produced.

CDF Construction

ECI filed for bankruptcy in 1981. In the late 1980s, all the buildings and aboveground structures were razed in response to a court order. Several inches of clean topsoil were graded to cover the site. The site was vacant until CDF construction started in 2002. CDF construction was completed in 2011.

See the CDF Construction History page for a detailed timeline of the CDF construction.

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Vacant ECI site in 2000; roads go to oil collection system [Source: USACE]
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CDF completed in 2011 [Source: USACE]

CDF Dike Expansion

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Placement and compaction of satisfactory fill for dike widening [Source: USACE]

In July 2021, USACE began the Phase 2 dike project to expand the CDF exterior dikes by 11 feet to maintain sufficient storage capacity for the intended project life, consistent with the original project authorization and plan. The 11-foot dike expansion is expected to occur from 2021 through 2023. The current plan includes no dredging and dredged material placement into the CDF during the dike expansion. CDF operational activities such as groundwater extraction and water treatment continue during dike expansion.

Site Ownership and Responsibility

Former owners of the project site include Sinclair from 1918 to 1968, Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) from 1968 to 1976, and ECI from 1976 to 1981.

In 1989, the city of East Chicago became the owner of the ECI site as payment for back taxes owed by ECI. In assuming ownership without approved environmental corrective and closure actions in place, the city of East Chicago also assumed liability for the site.

In 1994, the East Chicago Waterway Management District (ECWMD) was formed. At that time, the ECI site was transferred to ECWMD, which is the current property owner.

The ECWMD serves as the local cost-share sponsor with USACE, and assumes all inherent regulatory liabilities. ECWMD provides the USACE, Chicago District, with the authority to perform all activities necessary for the construction, operation, maintenance, and management of the CDF.