Make your home page

Putnam County community protests over toxic soil from Ohio train derailment

RUSSELLVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — People in Putnam County are furious about toxic soil from the Ohio train derailment coming to their community.

Protestors gathered Thursday outside of the landfill just east of the town of Russellville.

I-Team 8 saw several trucks going into the landfill, but it is unclear if they had contaminated soil in them.

The protestors told I-Team 8 they were out there because of their long-term concerns about the materials being in the landfill. Protestor Morgan Myers said, “I just think about my children, our children, and the children of this community and how much this could affect them in the future.”

The protestors told I-Team 8 they’re also concerned about the violations the landfill has that are listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. The site has been in violation for 12 consecutive quarters.

A representative from Heritage Environmental Services addressed those concerns at a town hall meeting Wednesday night. He said the violations were a labeling issue. Ali Alavi, executive vice president of Heritage Environmental Services, said, “That labeling issue was already addressed with Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and the reason why that shows as 12 consecutive quarters is until they close that out from a paperwork perspective in their office, they leave that issue as open on that website.”

I-Team 8 asked the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for the full report of violations for the landfill. Environmental Management representatives told I-Team 8 they are working to get that information to us.

In the meantime, I-Team talked to Gabriel Filippelli, an IUPUI professor who is an environmental geochemist with experience in analyzing reports such as the one showing the landfill’s violations. “I would consider these low-level violations in that there is no money, or punitive issues involved, and it’s likely that it’s something relatively minor. In this case, whether it’s a labeling issue or a safety protocol issue that not fully in place, it doesn’t seem to be a major release of a toxin of any kind.”

Filippelli’s only concern about the landfill: “Most of these landfill sites and these facilities do tend to experience some environmental leakages of some kind or another eventually, so although my concern would not be for today, it might be for 10 years or 20 years down the road.”

The protestors told I-Team 8 their community is being targeted because it’s in a poorer area.

“It wouldn’t be happening if we were in an affluent community,” Myers said.

Heritage Environmental Services said it’ll take about 100 trucks to transport the Ohio soil to the landfill, but it’s unknown how long it will take to get that soil from Ohio to Indiana.