Indiana DEM investigates release of sediments from industrial wastewater lagoon

State and federal officials are working to assess environmental impacts related to a release of water and the possible release of sediments containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from a wastewater lagoon at the Pfizer facility in Terre Haute, IN. Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) staff began investigating the potential release of PCB-contaminated sediments on June 7, when Pfizer personnel reported a dam break at the Pfizer lagoon during heavy rains and flooding...

• Residents should direct questions to IDEM staff members via agency's toll free line

TERRE HAUTE, IN, June 26, 2008 -- State and federal officials are working to assess environmental impacts related to a release of water and the possible release of sediments containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from a wastewater lagoon at the Pfizer facility in Terre Haute.

Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) staff began investigating the potential release of PCB-contaminated sediments on June 7, when Pfizer personnel reported a dam break at the Pfizer lagoon during heavy rains and flooding. Through previous sampling done in the remediation of industrial waste from past activities at the facility, PCBs were identified to exist in some sediments in the lagoon that was breached.

No immediate public health risk has been identified related to the release of wastewater and possible release of sediments from the lagoon. IDEM is working with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to fully assess environmental impacts related to PCB-contaminated sediments that may have washed from the lagoon. IDEM has collected and analyzed soil and drinking water samples from a nearby residence, and sediment samples from Jordan Creek. Pfizer personnel are working to provide information and assistance to IDEM and U.S. EPA, and identify and address sediments that may have washed from the lagoon onto private properties.

The lagoon is located on the Pfizer property south of downtown Terre Haute at 100 West Pfizer Drive. Residents living near the lagoon in the area of Jordan Creek and Honey Creek may contact the following IDEM staff members for more information.

* Questions concerning drinking water wells should be directed to Jim Harris with IDEM's Drinking Water Branch, toll free at (800) 451-6027, directly at (317) 308-3325, or via e-mail at jharris@idem.IN.gov.

* Questions concerning sediments on private property or sediments in Honey Creek or Jordan Creek should be directed to George Ritchotte with IDEM's Office of Land Quality, toll free at (800) 451-6027, directly at (317) 308-3123, or via email at gritchot@idem.IN.gov.

PCBs were used in the past in coolants and lubricants in electrical, heat transfer and hydraulic equipment; as plasticizers which provided flexibility in paints, plastics and rubber products; in pigments, dyes and carbonless copy paper; and other applications. In 1977, the manufacture of PCBs was stopped in the United States due to studies showing a number of serious health effects related to exposure to PCBs.

The public can find information about PCBs on the IDEM website at http://www.in.gov/idem/4545.htm.

IDEM implements federal and state regulations regarding the environment.

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