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Terre Haute Starts Cleanup Of Coke And Carbon Site

The contaminated area is one of many sites the city hopes to clean up so it can get the abandoned properties back on the tax rolls.

remediation site

Photo: Jimmy Jenkins/WFIU News

Workers dig up dirt at the Terre Haute Coke/Carbon site as a part of the city's remediation process.

Contractors began Thursday excavation of a brownfield site at the former Terre Haute Coke and Carbon plant.

The City has hired contractors to reclaim the 20 acres of contaminated land that sits at the corner of 13th and Hulman streets.

Once the home of the Terre Haute Coke and Carbon plant, the expansive site has been abandoned for decades. Since taking ownership in 2010, the city has begun efforts to make the site feasible for commercial development.

Steve Sandford, a senior project manager with Weaver Boos Consultants, the company serving as engineer for the project and designer of the remediation plan. He says the first step is to explore a tar pit on the property that’s a remnant of the heavy industrial plants that once operated there. The tar pit exists approximately 20 feet underground and poses structural challenges to future construction.

“It’s soft – so it’s never going to support traffic very well,” Sandford says. “We don’t want tar coming up out of the ground later on when we’re finished. And finally this is the part of the site that has some of the highest concentrations of things like benzene and naphthalene.”

Sandford’s team took samples from the pit, which is as much as seven feet deep in certain areas, and will send them to a lab to be tested.

The lab will then develop a mix designed to stabilize the material so the contaminants will become solid and waterproof.

Contaminated groundwater that is trapped under the pit will also be solidified with the stabilizing mixture, but all of the contaminants will remain at the site, bound by the newly-poured mixture.

Further construction and soil removal will begin the week of June 17 and take approximately six months to complete.

The city has estimated the total cost of reclamation at $7 million dollars. Department of Redevelopment Executive Cliff Lambert says the city is looking to sell the property to investors interested in developing light-industrial or commercial business after remediation is complete.

Jimmy Jenkins

Jimmy Jenkins is a multimedia journalist for WFIU and WTIU news. A native of Terre Haute, he is a masters student at the Indiana University School of Journalism and is proud to be a part of the public broadcasting stations he listened to and watched since he was a child. Follow him on Twitter @newsjunkyjimmy.

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