News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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July 1, 2014

EPA to be finished by end of July

Riverside cleanup finds lead hot spots

TERRE HAUTE — An Environmental Protection Agency cleanup is expected to be completed by the end of July, clearing the way for the construction of a floatable control structure for the city of Terre Haute.

“The majority [of contamination] is lead and lead dust … with one area having 50,000 parts per million and another area … 20,000” parts per million, City Planner Pat Martin said Tuesday as he updated the city’s Board of Sanitary Commissioners on the cleanup project. The contamination is well above an 800 parts per million standard for industrial land.

Jason Sewell, on-scene coordinator for the EPA’s Superfund Division, Emergency Response Branch, contacted after the Sanitary Commissioners meeting, said the 800 parts per million is also the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s standard for recreational use.

“We are using the recreational screen levels [for lead] for trails and parks because Terre Haute is turning Dresser Drive into a trail, and we want to make sure our actions here are protective of public access and trail use,” Sewell said.

A parking area and trailhead also could be established along the proposed trail, Sewell said.

Lata Kemron Remediation is performing the cleanup for the EPA. The federal project, funded at $951,390, could remove up to 3,500 tons of soil. About 1,000 to 1,500 tons of soil have been removed so far, Sewell said.

The EPA is stockpiling the lead-contaminated soil, which will be disposed of in an approved landfill, once the total volume to be disposed is determined, Sewell said. In addition, a large metal tank on the site was found not to harbor any contamination, which will allow the city of Terre Haute to remove that tank as metal salvage.

Martin said the area’s ground water tested as good, “which points to the fact that the [lead] contamination is mostly on the surface, anywhere from one to two feet” deep.

About 10 sites, in an 1.9-acre area between what would be an extension of Hulman and Idaho streets to the Wabash River, were determined by the EPA to be excavated, Martin said.

“We did trenching. We staked out a survey area of where the pipe will go and where the floatable control structure will go. We dug five trenches. We found coal ash and coal cinders down to 16 feet or more,” Martin said.

After the meeting, Martin said the coal ash and coal cinders were likely disposed of between 1974 and 1982. “That is based on aerial photographs,” he said, which reveal the change in the land contour/topography.

There are at least two large mounds of metal, plastic and other materials that will be disposed of as part of the city’s floatable control structure project, Martin said.

“Once we start construction, we will have an environmental consultant on site to ensure if we do come across any other contaminated materials, [they] can be identified and removed as well,” Martin said.

The city of Terre Haute was given 39 acres of land by Sugar Creek Scrap, a West Terre Haute-based business; however, the brownfield cleanup has been concentrated in less than 2 acres where the actual floatable control structure would be located.

The city will also remove old cars and metal containers, which can be sold as scrap to offset the cleanup cost.

The site, Martin said, also “has substantial medical waste. Some of that was sent off to the EPA labs for determination.” Martin said it is undetermined if the medical waste is from an animal research facility or from somewhere else.

City Engineer Chuck Ennis said once all contaminated soil is removed, 12 inches of clean dirt will be put down and seeded with grass. That will be done in areas the EPA has cleaned, outside of the city’s proposed construction area.

“It will then be up to our contractor to bring in clean fill” in the area of the city’s project, Ennis said.

Sewell said the Superfund cleanup “includes an investigative process where we determine past owners and operators of the property and other parties who may have disposed of hazardous substances on the property. That is a parallel process, so we started that process some time ago and are continuing on that” investigative process, Sewell said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or


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