News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 4, 2013

EPA finds high lead levels near Wabash

Full report on former Sugar Creek Scrap property not yet available

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Soil testing on property near the Wabash River has shown lead levels above U.S. EPA “screening levels.”

The EPA is still awaiting a full report on the former Sugar Creek Scrap property, where a contractor in February collected soil samples for lab testing.

On Wednesday, an EPA official said tests showed lead at 110 parts per million in two different locations at the site. The “screening level” is just five parts per million for toxins that may leach into groundwater, said Shelly Lam, an on-scene coordinator with the EPA.

“It was considerably above” the screening level in those two locations, she said.

It was not clear what the next step will be at the site, which is between Indiana 63 and the Wabash River in the area of Hulman Street. Options for cleanup could involve the EPA, the City of Terre Haute or the “responsible party,” Lam said.

The 39-acre property was given to the City of Terre Haute at no charge last year by Sugar Creek Scrap, a West Terre Haute-based business.

The property is partly wooded, contains a small pond and considerable amounts of solid waste, including junked cars, buses, tires and other waste.

EPA testing at the site was concerned only with determining “immediate and substantial” threats posed by contaminants uncovered through testing. That does not rule out other hazardous substances at the site that might pose longer-term threats and might also need attention, said Pat Martin, city planner for the Terre Haute Department of Engineering.

The final report from the Ohio-based EPA contractor responsible for the site testing is expected soon.

The City of Terre Haute plans to build a “floatable control structure” on the property in question. Such structures are used to capture floating materials, such as plastic bottles, that find their way into the city’s combined stormwater/sewer system. The safety of workers involved in site preparation and construction for that structure is part of the EPA’s present concern over lead, Lam said.

The site is also part of future city plans for a hiking trail the city hopes to construct along the eastern bank of the Wabash River from Fairbanks Park to approximately Interstate 70.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or