The I. Jones (IJ) site is located at 3651 North Clinton Street in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The site occupies approximately 4.5 acres and is situated in a predominantly commercial and residential area. The site is bordered on the southwest by Ernest Court, on the southeast by a parking lot adjacent to several small businesses, on the north by retail businesses including the large Glenbrook shopping mall, and on the west by a residence. Four buildings are located on the site.
The facility, formerly known as Hanchar Industrial Waste Management and Continental Waste Systems, began operations in 1980 as a waste recovery and reclamation facility, handling waste oils and solvents along with other hazardous wastes. Over the years, the owner/operators accepted waste from various industrial sources, and accumulated a substantial volume of partially treated and untreated hazardous substances. The facility ceased operations in 1984. While attempts were made to revive the facility, full operation was never achieved. Much of the waste was stored in tanks and drums, and an estimated 400,000 gallons of solvents and waste oils were awaiting treatment when the facility was sold. Some of the treatment methods formerly used on the site included oil/water separation, acid/base neutralization, heavy metal precipitation, and distillation.
In connection with the proposed sale of the site, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was asked by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to conduct a site assessment following an inventory of the closed facility by Pollution Control Systems in January 1985. The SBA was concerned about potential threats to public health and the environment posed by the large number of drums and tanks at the inoperable facility. The EPA and its Technical Assistance Team (TAT) conducted the inspection on February 25, 1985, and recommended that the current owner activate the sprinkler system, implement security measures, and conduct daily inspections of the facility to detect leaking drums and other unsafe conditions until a new owner took over.
On December 24, 1985, a ceiling collapsed at the facility and sheared off a valve on a 10,000 gallon tank containing highly chlorinated hazardous ink solvents. Five to six thousand gallons of material were spilled and approximately 1,500 gallons entered the storm sewer system. The EPA investigated the spill on January 3, 1986. IJ Recycling contracted Pollution Control Systems to clean up the spill. Clean up delays and financial problems resulted in some of the material entering the St. Joseph River.
The State of Indiana obtained an Agreed Entry of a Preliminary Injunction for IJ Recycling on March 22, 1986. This order prevented them from accepting any additional hazardous material until they lowered their existing inventory. On September 9, 1986, a chemical fire broke out at the site. The local fire department and Hazardous Materials Response Team extinguished the blaze which narrowly missed igniting approximately 525 drums of hazardous materials in an adjoining room. The City then asked for and was granted a restraining order against IJ Recycling, closing the facility.