Give Now

Terre Haute Residents Worry Soil Cleanup Will Pollute Air

Coke and Carbon

Photo: Jimmy Jenkins

Weaver Boos Consultants Project Manager Steve Sandford answers residents' questions at the Booker T. Washington Community Center in Terre Haute Tuesday night.

Terre Haute residents voiced concerns Tuesday that a remediation process of an old coke and carbon site will stir up contaminants in the soil and pollute the surrounding air.

The city is conducting remediation efforts at the Coke and Carbon brown field site at 13th and Hulman Streets and held a meeting Tuesday to explain the project to the city’s residents. 

Representatives from the city and a contractor in charge of the cleanup provided details about the construction to a group of about 20 residents at the Booker T. Washington Community Center.

They explained the aim of the clean-up effort is to make a 20-acre parcel of contaminated land owned by the city usable again for commercial or light industrial development.

Weaver Boos Consultants Project Manager Steve Sandford told those in attendance he expected the project, which is currently under contract for $5 million, to be completed by the end of November of 2013.

Past industrial activity at the site left large amounts of contaminants in the ground such as lead, arsenic, benzene and naphthalene. The toxins have also seeped into ground water on the site.

To remediate the land, construction crews will be removing 70,000 cubic yards of soil over the next several months, and then filling the space in again with clean soil.

But several people at the meeting were concerned that the process will reintroduce contaminants into the air around the site, which borders a residential area.

Annetta Sweatt, who has lived one block north of the site for 35 years, worries about the effect the construction will have on the air quality of her neighborhood.

“Just going up and down 13th street today, you can see the dust on both sides of the street,” Sweatt said. “We inhale this. Our children inhale it. Our grandchildren inhale it.”

Project Manager Steve Sandford says while the contaminated soil will be loaded into dump trucks that are not covered with tarps, he does not have any concerns that the project will generate any harmful dust.

“The contractor’s going to be required to water the soil before and after it’s removed so that it doesn’t generate any dust while it’s being loaded or during traffic on the site or while it’s being hauled to the landfill,” Sandford said. “If dust becomes an issue going down the road the trucks will be tarped.”

Residents also raised concerns that the remediation project will take a toll on the local infrastructure.

Sandford estimates there will be 100 truck loads full of soil removed from the site every day for six months to be taken to the Sycamore Ridge Landfill south of town.

However city engineer Pat Martin says the roadways around the site were constructed with just such heavy industrial use in mind.

“This was designed specifically to handle high volumes of traffic and handle commercial and industrial traffic coming to and from the Terre Haute Coke and Carbon site as an eventual industrial park,” Martin said.

A representative from Weaver Boos is monitoring the project on a daily basis. While they predicted a safe remediation, Sandford and Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett encouraged residents to alert both entities in the event that they see any contamination spreading to the roadways or surrounding areas.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.