An old gas station in Harmony, located on United States 40, near the Harmony Diner, is in the process of an environmental assessment. The owner of the property claimed an inability to pay for the work needed. The State of Indiana asked West Central Indiana Economic Development District, Inc., (WCIEDD) to get involved and awarded the group $894,000 of stimulus money to use for the project.
WCIEDD and ATC Associates, Inc., began the Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment in March. Phase 1 includes checking the outside of the site. During Phase 2, the companies look into what is underneath the site and check records for the property. The Phase 2 work identifies if there are environmental concerns at the site and gets some measure of how bad it is, so the developer can make an educated decision on whether they want to purchase or redevelop the property.
"If there are concerns or environmental issues, we would go forward with writing future grants or applications to request additional funds to remediate them," Principal Geologist Robert Walker of ATC Associates, Inc., said.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) partners with WCIEDD to help with grants.
According to officials, the Harmony site has had problems with contamination. Some contamination got into the storm drains, which first brought attention to the area.
"We wanted to try to find where the source of the contamination was," Walker said. "This site had nine underground storage tanks, which is a lot for a site like this. The tanks had leaked to some degree."
Three of the found tanks were registered, but six of them had either been abandoned or not registered, according to Walker.
Currently, the fuel-contaminated soil is being excavated and hauled to a landfill. The intention is to remove all the contaminated soil so the owners can redevelop the property.
"The (Clay County) commissioners did a big favor here for the county," Economic Development Specialist of WCIEDD Jim Coffenberry said. "It's not costing the county a dime. All the money is from EPA. The EPA and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act pay for this project. They are using money out of our coalition to do this."
The money from WCIEDD is between $50,000-60,000, which comes from the Coalition Reassessment Grant. The remediation process will cost approximately $150,000.
"That's a pretty good chunk of change for not having to put anything up," Coffenberry said.
After Phase 2 is completed and all the contaminated soil is removed, the site will be back-filled. Three monitoring wells will be installed down to about 25-feet to collect ground water samples to verify the ground water is not contaminated. If the data supports the water is clean, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management will issue a closure on the site, requiring no further action.
According to Walker, the project should be completed by Friday.
Vigo, Vermillion and Clay counties are involved with the WCIEDD, as well as Sullivan and Putnam counties.