Monroe County intends to purchase limestone quarry land to create a tourist destination despite concerns of environmental hazards, according to Indiana Public Media.
The land surrounds an area contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from discarded capacitors used in Westinghouse Electric Company’s manufacturing in the 1950s. PCBs are carcinogens that affect the immune system and nervous system.
The specific locations contaminated were Lemon Lane’s Landfill, Neal’s Landfill and Bennett Stone Quarry.
The Environmental Protection Agency listed the area on its priority cleanup list and designated it as a Superfund site, which allows the area to receive state and federal money in the interest of public health. The EPA removed the site from its priority list after 35 years of cleanup in May 2021.
IU professor Diane Henshel, who was contracted by the county to determine health risks, presented preliminary findings at a county commissioners’ meeting in August 2021. According to the Herald Times, she said contamination levels are low, but that PCBs remain in the limestone and cannot be removed.
Henshel said heavy rains could wash PCBs across the floodplain, which includes the land to be purchased by the county.
County attorney Jeff Cockerill said in the IPM article that the site would include a limestone history center and possibly feature an educational center for PCBs. He said the county council will vote on the purchase June 14.