R.M. Schahfer Generating Station has 107 groundwater monitoring wells, 78 of which have been polluted above federal advisory levels based on samples collected between March 23, 2010 and December 05, 2019. Groundwater at this site contains unsafe levels of boron, sulfate, molybdenum, manganese, arsenic, cobalt, lithium, nitrate, radium, nickel, selenium, antimony, fluoride and chromium.Site description
R.M. Schahfer Generating Station is a coal-fired power plant south of Valparaiso, Indiana owned by Northern Indiana Public Service Company, which began operating in 1976. It was composed of four units until 2021, when two of its units were retired. The remaining two are expected to be retired in 2025. The facility had a peak capacity of 1,944-MW, while the two remaining units have a total capacity of 847-MW. The plant operates a Type I Restricted Waste Landfill (RWS I), which was originally permitted to receive waste in 1984. The plant has additional waste disposal areas, including 3 primary ash ponds, four smaller ash ponds, and several former dry-staging areas. The ponds and dry storage areas were commissioned in the 1970s and 1980s. The landfill, surface impoundments, and waste disposal areas are regulated under the federal coal ash rule.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 rated two of the ash ponds at the station as having high-hazard dams, indicating that failure of those dams would likely result in the loss of human life. Schahfer Generating Station is also listed among the U.S. EPA potential damage cases, indicating that it has polluted groundwater at levels which potentially threaten human health or the environment. An investigation conducted by the Center for Public Integrity, USA Today, and the Weather Channel found R.M. Schahfer Generating Station as one of the nation's 22 "Super Polluters".