News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 13, 2013

Deep examination: Testing under way on parking lot that was former industrial site near downtown

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Environmental testing is under way on another brownfield site in Terre Haute, this time a parking lot owned by the Terre Haute Boys & Girls Club.

The asphalt parking lot, located between First and Second streets and Eagle and Chestnut, used to be the site of a manufactured gas plant in the late 1800s, said Pat Martin, city planner.

“We’re trying to find if there is contamination of the groundwater,” he said. The site is about 1⁄4-mile east of the Wabash River, and groundwater flows west, he said.

He stressed there is no danger to the public or drinking water supply provided by Indiana American, which is located farther north of the site.

For the past four days, Bruce Carter Associates has been obtaining soil and water samples. The city is paying for the environmental assessment using a U.S. EPA grant, and the cost is $68,000, Martin said. It’s part of the city’s brownfield program and one of several sites to have an environmental assessment.

The city should have a report on test results in about eight weeks.

Officials already know there is some soil contamination, but once they receive the report, they will know if the problem is serious enough that it requires remediation, Martin said.

The site has some contamination from petroleum, gasoline, diesel and manufactured plant byproduct-type material, he said. It also formerly was used for an oil refinery and was once even the site for a section of the Wabash and Erie Canal.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is involved with the environmental assessment. “I’ve had someone from the Indiana brownfied staff overseeing everything we are doing to make sure we are following every guideline,” Martin said.

IDEM has done research identifying where such brownfield sites are located.

In the past, Indiana State University has shown an interest in the parking lot, Martin said, but the information would be important for any potential purchaser.

 “If the lot is sold by the Boys and Girls Club, whoever they sell it to, buyer and seller will have a good environmental picture of what is under the site itself,” Martin said. “On the surface it looks like a parking lot, but in reality it is an old industrial site.”

A brownfield site is property in which redevelopment or reuse could be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.

If a cleanup would be necessary, Martin said it is not yet determined who would pay for that. “We would have to figure that out,” he said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or