The Terre Haute North Vigo High School will be tested for groundwater contamination, after a hazardous chemical was found near the school at the former property of Standard Register. The printing company informed the school that, as they were cleaning up the property as part of a sales agreement, they found perchloroethylene in both soil and water samples. Brendan Kearns, risk manager for the Vigo County School Corporation, says the company discovered that the groundwater flows from their former property directly across the street to southeast portion of the Terre Haute North campus. The company offered to conduct tests on school ground to ensure any soil and groundwater are safe. Kearns says there is no cause for alarm, as the school’s drinking water is a closed system.
Standard Register will drill four monitoring wells on school property over the weekend, and will take samples on the following weekend. Neal Frink, an attorney for Standard Register, says the test results should be back in two to three weeks. Frink says the wells will be monitored on a quarterly basis up until at least one year after the clean-up goals have been met. Frink says exposures to high levels of the contaminant can cause dizziness, nausea, kidney and liver damage, and it may be carcinogenic. But Frink says the releases were probably small, because the contaminant was used as a cleaning solvent and not as a production chemical. He says Standard Register has already started decontaminating the ground water at their former property by injecting a food substance into the ground that’s similar to molasses.
Lesley Sprigg, director of corporate communications for Standard Register, says the company hadn’t used the chemical since the mid-eighties. Sprigg says the company has entered the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Voluntary Remediation Program and is following state guidelines to clean up. Kearns says the Vigo schools have requested additional Indoor Air Quality testing to be performed in the Terre Haute North building. Standard Register is covering all costs for the tests. Kearns says school sessions will not be affected by the testing. He says the Vigo schools will hold a community meeting in the near future to address any concerns.