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August 1, 2013

Firm investigates possible contaminated sites in area

Consultant: Insurance often effective in cleanup efforts of brownfields.

An Indianapolis environmental consulting firm is continuing to investigate under-used and possibly contaminated business sites in the area to prepare owners for cleaning them up and increasing their marketability.

Last October, the cities of Logansport and Rochester along with Fulton County received a brownfields grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for $686,500, which they used to hire Bruce Carter Associates, LLC to investigate vacant and under-used commercial sites with possible environmental contaminants. Logansport’s share was $330,000.

Since starting the investigations in December, Joel Markland, director of project development at Bruce Carter Associates, said the firm has investigated about four Brownfields properties in Logansport out of the about 40 listed in the grant.

The firm starts by developing a history report on a property by visiting the site, interviewing people aware of its uses and conducting records searches on state and federal databases, Markland said.

“It helps us determine what might be happening environmentally on a property,” he said. “It doesn’t tell us if it is contaminated, but what operations and what kinds of chemicals were used.”

After the history report, the firm collects soil and groundwater samples.

Markland said the firm is currently awaiting laboratory results on two Logansport properties. He declined to refer to specific properties by name before receiving permission from the owners.

The list of about 40 properties he spoke about to city officials in December includes the former Exide battery plant on Water Street, Modine Manufacturing Company on Water Street and the former Trelleborg plant on General Street.

Markland said when contaminants are found, they are usually metals and volatile organic compounds like dry cleaner solvents.

While the grant only covers the costs of investigating the properties, Markland said oftentimes owners’ liability insurance policies will pick up the cost of any necessary cleanups.

“A lot of property owners don’t know that,” he said. “They’re sitting on this fear of liability, this fear of value reduction. We can solve that with their insurance policies.”

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