EPA proposes cleaning up toxic drinking water on west side

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 29, 2015) -- The federal government is looking to clean up a toxic mess on the west side of Indianapolis.

The West Vermont Contamination Site is located near Michigan and Holt roads.

According to an EPA report, 40 homes within one mile of the contamination area use private water wells that are impacted.

The EPA also says if they don't act nearly 20,000 additional people could have their water contaminated.

Lana Edwards uses her tap water for cleaning dishes, washing clothes or taking a bath, but she won’t drink it, especially after three of her neighbors wells tested over the safe limit for a deadly chemical.

“It’s not a good thing to put up with, all that contaminated water,” said Edwards. “I don’t know what it would do, but I don’t want to chance it.”

In the short term, the EPA report proposes connecting homes in the affected area to the municipal drinking supply and abandoning private wells.

However, long term cleanup is important to the entire west side because the contamination has the potential to spread and could affect two separate municipal well fields that serve water to more than 18 thousand people.

“It’s important is to help prevent expansion of contamination of a much larger drinking water supply as well as those in the immediate area,” said Bruce Palin with IDEM.

“Chemicals in groundwater travel. It doesn’t hold still,” said Indra Frank with the Hoosier Environmental Council.

Frank says the chemical vinyl chloride, which exists on site, can have deadly consequences if it reaches anyone's drinking water.

“Vinyl chloride is a carcinogen which can contribute to cancer of the liver, brain, blood or lungs,” said Frank.

For her part, Lana has had her water tested regularly since the problem first got discovered in 2009.

She’d like to finally be able to drink from her tap.

“I always buy bottled water. I don’t drink this. I won’t even give it to the pets. It’d just be nice to drink water out of the faucet and not have to buy bottles,” said Edwards.

Right now there are eight other Superfund sites similar to the one proposed in Indianapolis.

The next step is for the EPA to begin accepting public comment on the issue for 60 days.

 

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