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Logansport Drinking Water Pollution Makes EPA’s National Priorities List

By Rebecca Thiele, IPB News | Published on in Community, Environment, Health
A panoramic view of Logansport, 2013 (Evan Nichols/Wikimedia Commons)
A panoramic view of Logansport, 2013 (Evan Nichols/Wikimedia Commons)

A plume of cancer-causing chemicals in drinking water wells in Logansport has been added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund National Priorities List. The list helps prioritize the some of the most contaminated sites in the country and makes them eligible for federal cleanup funding.

The city’s wellfield is contaminated with PCE, a cancer-causing chemical used to degrease metal and in dry cleaning. Patients and employees at Logansport State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital, rely on the city’s water as well as Logansport residents.

“We feel it’s important to find out what the source of that contamination might be and to restore that aquifer to drinking water standards,” says Timothy Fischer, Acting Branch Chief of Remedial Response Branch 1 at EPA.

Logansport’s Mayor, Dave Kitchell, says there used to be an old dry cleaner and a city landfill next to the city wellfield, but those haven’t been identified as the cause yet.

Kitchell says the city is working to help remediate several hazardous waste sites in the area. But he says were it not for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s city well testing program, Logansport wouldn’t have known about the contaminated water.

“Environmental problems may be out of sight, but they’re never truly out of mind. You’ve got to keep monitoring them, you have to keep located them because they are mobile,” he says.

IDEM says the city water is being treated and is safe to drink. But Kitchell says Clinton Township residents with private wells may want to test their water for PCE. He suggests calling the Cass County Health Department or the Arrowhead Country RC&D.

The Cliff Drive groundwater contamination site is one of seven Superfunds the EPA added to the nationwide list on Tuesday. About 40 active Superfunds in Indiana are on the National Priorities List.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.