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Thursday, June 02, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - More on: WTHR13 investigates IDEM's voluntary remediation program (VRP)

Updating this ILB post from yesterday, last evening Sandra Chapman, WTHR Investigative Reporter, aired a follow-up story, headed "13 Investigates report 'Dangerous Exposure' gets results." A few quotes from the long story:

As part of the voluntary program, companies agree to clean up their messes and in exchange, they get protection from lawsuits, but 13 Investigates found communities put at risk by leaching chemicals while the companies who promised to clean them up didn't hold up their end of the bargain.

Worse yet, in some cases, IDEM didn't take any enforcement action for decades. * * *

Ten years after enrolling into the State's voluntary cleanup program, Acraline was terminated for "[failing] to substantially comply with the terms" of the remediation.

"You would think the State would be a little more forceful. If it's a potential danger, you need to clean it up," Lacy told 13 Investigates.

One year after Acraline [in Tipton] was terminated from the Voluntary Remediation Program, its insurers actually came to a settlement and agreed to clean up the contamination before it reached the city's municipal water well. But for 3 years, nothing happened - until 13 Investigates started asking questions.

"Your call made us aware, brought our attention to the matter," said Tipton Mayor Don Havens. Havens said he had no idea the cleanup work had not been completed. He looked for a certification, but could find none.

Frank DeVeau, the company's attorney, told 13 Investigates a confidential insurance settlement lapsed because "the insurers could not find a bank" that would control the cleanup. The banks, he said, did not want to assume liability "for all costs."

But just one week after 13 Investigates spoke with DeVeau, the parties reached a new agreement. DeVeau reported the "remediation would start" as early as June.

"We're pleased to hear that any remediation that might be required to satisfy IDEM is, in fact, going to take place," said Mayor Havens. * * *

As for the old Coke Plant site in Indianapolis, Citizens says it's awaiting comments from IDEM on its final remediation steps for the gas supply area. Citizens says it plans to remove excessive coal tar from the creek next summer, but only on its site.

IDEM is expected to sit down and talk about the lagging cleanups with 13 Investigates next week.

ILB: This is not the first time Indiana's voluntary cleanup program has been questioned. A long July 8, 2007 ILB post begins:
Dan Stockman of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has a lengthy report today on the failings of Indiana's voluntary cleanup program.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 2, 2016 08:20 AM
Posted to Environment | Indiana Government