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EPA cites INDOT, two companies for wetlands violations near Indianapolis Airport; proposes $157,500 fine

Release Date: 02/03/2005
Contact Information:

CONTACT: Kären Thompson, (312) 353-8547
Mick Hans, (312) 353-5050

For Immediate Release
No. 05-OPA006

CHICAGO (Feb. 3, 2005) — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 recently cited the Indiana Department of Transportation, Atlas Excavating and Larry Fitzgerald (d/b/a Shrum Manufactured Housing), for illegally filling in wetlands near the Indianapolis International Airport. EPA has proposed a $157,500 fine.

EPA alleges that between August and December 1999, the three respondents illegally dumped 35,500 cubic yards of polluted construction debris as fill material on a 2-acre area southeast of U.S. Highway 40, near the intersection of West Washington Street and Raceway Boulevard.

Most of the 2-acre area is owned by the airport. Fitzgerald owns the adjacent parcel where the material was originally supposed to be disposed of, though his property only received a small amount of the material. As a result of the dumping, wildlife habitat has been destroyed and the East Fork of White Lick Creek can no longer provide flood storage for the watershed. In turn, the fill has also now become a source of additional pollution affecting White Lick Creek – which is already classified by the Indiana as an impaired water body. The creek flows into the White River, which leads to the Wabash River, an interstate stream.

The civil penalty is based on more than 1,900 continuous days of violation. The respondents have 30 days to request a hearing or file a response with EPA.

In 1997, INDOT paid $35,000 to resolve a similar administrative complaint for illegally filling in wetlands with debris from a U.S. Highway 23 construction project in St. Joseph County.

Wetlands are environmentally valuable because they filter pollutants from water, recharge water supplies, reduce flood risks and provide fish and wildlife habitat. Wetlands include marshes, swamps, bogs and similar areas between water and dry land.