IDEM officials discuss environmental concerns with residents of Peru
By Amanda Redman
PERU – State Rep. Ethan Manning  and Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) held a public information session about contamination from the Square D/Schneider Electric site Thursday at City Hall.
Schneider Electric acquired the Square D property at 252 Tippecanoe St. in 1991. The factory was shuttered in 2020.
Property owners southeast of the site learned trichloroethylene (TCE) has leached from the site through groundwater when they received letters from IDEM earlier this year. 
Schneider Electric has entered into the Voluntary Remediation Program (VRP) with IDEM, the letters stated. Further testing would be needed to d
etermine if TCE vapor is intruding into homes.
Manning, who represents the 23rd District, opened the meeting by asking everyone in the packed council chamber to be respectful. 
“There’s no one in this room tonight who has done anything wrong,” Manning said. “No one caused this problem. It started a hundred years ago. Now we’re dealing with it. That’s why we’re all here.”
Bill Holland, IDEM VRP section chief, re-enforced Manning’s comment, explaining TCE, a chlorinated solvent, was commonly used to clean and degrease metal in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. 
For reference, IDEM was not established until 1986, and many chemicals were not regulated until the 1980s, Holland said. 
“Now the use of these chemicals are regulated,” Holland said. 
IDEM is currently working to delineate the plume, to determine its parameters, and will have a proposed remedy by 2024, Holland said. 
“We understand the plume is under neighboring properties,”Holland said. 
Remedies for affected homes would involve placement of a barrier under the home to prevent vapor intrusion. Remediation for groundwater contamination may involve soil vapor extraction which pulls vapor from the ground and filters it with carbon so it can be safely released. 
The public will be informed before a proposed remedy is accepted and property owners will have right to comment or appeal, Holland said. 
Kevin Davis, VRP branch chief, urged homeowners who had not yet agreed to testing to do so. 
“We always encourage participation,” Davis said. “Uncertainty isn’t good for anyone. Information is good. That’s why we are here.”
Several neighboring property owners expressed concern about health issues but Davis said IDEM only could only address the environmental issue and clean-up. 
“We are not doctors and we not health professionals,” Davis said. 
Davis referred those with health concerns to seek medical advice and/or information through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or National Institute of Health (NIH.)
According to IDEM fact sheet, TCE is “likely carcinogenic to humans. Breathing and/or drinking high levels of TCE can cause health effects other than cancer.”
Posted on 2023 Mar 07