Wednesday, June 01, 2016
Ind. Gov't. - WTHR13 investigates IDEM's voluntary remediation program (VRP)
Sandra Chapman, WTHR Investigative Reporter, first aired this long story during the late evening news on May 23rd. Here are just few sample quotes:
INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Across Indiana for years, 13 Investigates found neighborhoods at risk of contamination, both underground and in the air.
Hundreds of companies tied to toxic sites have promised to clean it up, and in exchange the State protects them from lawsuits. But a three month long WTHR investigation found major gaps, allowing the danger to spread and leaving families at risk. It's all happening under a state program. * * *
What's disturbing is both companies were part of the State's VRP. Genuine Parts still is.
But Aimco, the company that owned the site of the dry cleaner, was removed from the program last June, nearly a decade after joining the program. An environmental law judge determined the company was terminated for failing to take appropriate action.
IDEM claimed Aimco “failed to timely and adequately investigate the nature and extent of the investigation at the site,” and failed to conduct more testing and sampling, required by the State. IDEM also claims Aimco made the problem worse by injecting unapproved chemicals into the ground.
An Aimco spokeswoman said the company was surprised by IDEM's actions and had believed progress was being made just days before the termination. * * *
13 Investigates found dozens of sites languishing sometimes for 10 to 15 years.
Since 2000, 353 companies have participated in the VRP.
62 of them, or one in six companies, were terminated or threatened with termination for failing to clean up as promised.
In many of those cases it took IDEM nearly a decade to take action.
"That's a fundamental flaw in the program," explained Dick Van Frank, an environmentalist and retired scientist from Eli Lilly and Company.
Van Frank has been watching the workings of the VRP for years and said he isn't a bit surprised at company's hiding within the program.
"It's a way to avoid taking responsibility," added Van Frank.