Noblesville Launches Investigation into Chemical Spills at Indiana Transportation Museum

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The City of Noblesville and Noblesville Parks and Recreation Board have notified the Indiana Transportation Museum (ITM) that the organization is in “serious default” under the terms of its lease of the grounds within Forest Park due to its unlawful handling of chemicals.

The city requested ITM begin remediation procedures including immediate containment measures to be completed within 60 days for all stored liquid materials, develop a plan within 90 days for permanent removal of the contamination, provide contact information for the licensed environmental firm or individual ITM will hire to supervise this work and identify the location where the materials will be properly disposed of.

“Despite numerous efforts over the years to encourage ITM to address some housekeeping concerns they have allowed within their property, the Parks Board had no idea what hazardous conditions existed on the other side of the fence,” said Scott Noel, president of the Noblesville Parks and Recreation board of directors. “We are disappointed that ITM has violated the terms of its lease with the Parks Board and by allowing their carelessness to endanger one of the greatest assets in the City of Noblesville – Forest Park.”

The investigation at Forest Park began after the City of Noblesville’s MS4 program manager recently performed an inspection of the outside maintenance and storage area leased to ITM. This cursory inspection came in response to a tip from the WRTV Call 6 investigative news team that expressed concerns that ITM’s storage of some materials and equipment may be hazardous to the environment.

This initial inspection found serious issues with outside storage of fluids and other items that could pose a risk, including container leakage and ground stains of unknown chemicals and petroleum-based chemicals used for the maintenance of ITM’s former railroad operations, which it has leased since the 1990s.

As a result, the city voluntarily notified the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to request a more comprehensive inspection. While no imminent threats were apparent to the city’s inspector, an independent environmental firm also was hired by the city to provide oversight and guidance.

“We look forward to working closely with IDEM so they can complete a much more thorough inspection of the site and help evaluate ITM’s plans for remediation,” said Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear. “We will do everything we can to ensure local taxpayers do not have to pay for the clean-up effort caused by the ITM due to its careless practices.”

IDEM has informed the city that its staff plans to inspect the grounds this week. At this time, the city is allowing ITM to continue normal business operations. However, if ITM does not comply with its request for containment and remediation, the city will be forced to take further action.

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