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Monday, January 26, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "IDEM cites erosion problems on Section 4 of I-69"

The Sunday Bloomington Herald-Times contains a very long $$$ story (partsof it may be accessed here) by Michael Reschke on environmental violations related to I-69 construction. Some quotes:

Failure to install proper sediment control measures. Failure to utilize runoff control measures. Failure to take corrective action in a timely manner since it took 17 days to address issues associated with a stream and a sinkhole.

Those are some of the Water Quality Certification observations in just one report prepared by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The Herald-Times requested all Rule 5 violations pertaining to Section 4 of Interstate 69, the 27-mile stretch of highway from Naval Support Activity Crane to Bloomington. IDEM denied some records related to the request, but provided access to 14 reports ranging from March 2013 to September 2014. In addition, IDEM provided two reports indicating previous issues had been resolved.

IDEM reports document a series of continuing erosion problems in Section 4 of the I-69 construction project. Yet no fines have been assessed, and it’s hard to determine whether all deficiencies in the reports have been corrected. * * *

Soil erosion and sedimentation in local waterways have been a concern for area residents and environmentalists since the I-69 project began. They’ve complained that in areas where trees and other vegetation have been cleared for the highway, bare soil is being washed away when it rains and entering local waterways. They have documented streams that once ran relatively clear now looking like chocolate milk, and even brown water coming from the faucet of one man whose drinking water came from a natural spring on his property.

Rule 5 is intended to prevent things like that from happening.

“The purpose of this rule is to establish requirements for stormwater discharges from construction activities of one acre or more so that the public health, existing water uses and aquatic biota are protected,” according to the statute.

The reports show contractors not only violated Rule 5, but in some instances, neglected areas of concern for several months. According to an inspection summary in a report dated Aug. 27, 2014, an inspection of two segments of Section 4 showed “significant erosion and sediment control work needs to be conducted.” The report continued, “The sediment discharges were noted on May 22, 2014, and have not been cleaned up nor has the area been stabilized. This area needs to be immediately brought into compliance and should take precedence over other work on the project site.”

According to a report dated April 11, 2014, several items identified as being in need of corrective action in previous reports had not been addressed. “Based on the items observed on-site, corrective action is not being initiated and oversight to ensure follow through by the contractor is absent.”

The observations listed in the report include things such as an earthen dam that was built in a tributary to Indian Creek without authorization that resulted in an unpermitted discharge of fill material.

At multiple locations, Gohmann Construction Inc. built temporary crossings on Indian Creek, which failed after a rainfall of about 0.44 inches. The crossings were reconstructed, but the contractor left rip-rap material from the failed crossings in the stream channels. That material was deposited downstream and had not been addressed by the contractor nor the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Attempts to find out the current status of those ongoing problems were unsuccessful. In a phone interview Wednesday, IDEM spokesman Barry Sneed said he would have to check on those specific reports. A reporter emailed the reports to Sneed, but did not receive a response by the deadline for this story. A phone call to Sneed on Friday was not returned.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 26, 2015 09:27 AM
Posted to Environment | Indiana Government