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Flexsteel will pay to clean up contaminated groundwater at Elkhart County Superfund site

An Elkhart County Superfund site may soon be getting cleaned up, after former RV furniture manufacturer Flexsteel Industries agreed to pay nearly $10 million to do so under a consent decree with the Department of Justice.

The Lane Street Superfund site covers around 65 acres of residential and light industrial properties south of the Indiana Toll Road in Elkhart. A plume of groundwater there was contaminated with industrial solvents and degreasers. It stretches from underneath an industrial park, across County Road 6 and into a residential area on Lane Street.

In a press release, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice say Flexsteel is liable for the cleanup because its former manufacturing operations contributed to the formation of the plume.

The EPA has already settled with two other potentially responsible parties, and now Flexsteel has agreed to pay $9.8 million to help remediate the contaminated groundwater. The company was a longtime RV furniture manufacturer before exiting that market in 2020.

The EPA announced plans in 2016 to clean up the plume by breaking it down into harmless chemical compounds. The money from Flexsteel will fund the implementation of that cleanup.

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Jakob Lazzaro comes to Indiana from Chicago, where he graduated from Northwestern University in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and a double major in History. Before joining WVPE, he wrote NPR's Source of the Week e-mail newsletter, and previously worked for CalMatters, Pittsburgh's 90.5 WESA and North by Northwestern.