Indiana Harbor and Canal Project
Residents of northwest Indiana have requested Technical Outreach Services Communities (TOSC) Program assistance concerning the dredging of sediments from the Indiana Harbor and Canal (IHC) and the construction of a confined disposal facility in East Chicago, Indiana. TOSC is a university based technical assistance program, funded under a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), that seeks to promote effective public involvement in the decision making about the dredging of the IHC. Following meetings with interested citizens and local officials, TOSC has prepared this Outreach Brief, which provides a background on the project and a listing of concerns that have been expressed by community members. The brief also lists services that TOSC may provide to address community con-cerns, including independent scientific review of data and assistance in un-derstanding the potential effects to people and the environment. TOSC is working collaboratively with the Grand Calumet Task Force and other local community organizations to address public concern over the IHC project
Background on IHC project
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (The Corps) has proposed to carry out dredging of sediments from the IHC to allow its continued use as a navigable waterway. Some of those sediments are contaminated by toxic chemicals, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycylclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals. The principal source of sediment and sediment contamination is due to combined sewer overflows, municipal and industrial discharge, and urban runoff. Because of the contamination in the sediments, U.S. EPA has examined, and is continuing to examine, the environmental impacts of the project, particularly the risks to people and the environment.
The Corps plans to place the sediments that are dredged into a confined disposal facility (CDF). The Corps has proposed to build the CDF on the former Energy Cooperative Industries (ECI) property (see Figure 1), the site of a former petroleum refinery. The site has “open” status as a federally permitted facility because it requires further cleanup work. The Corps sees the CDF as part of the required cleanup activities on the ECI property.
Update of IHC Project (partial list)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has provided the following update of tasks related to the project that will be carried out over the next six months. Questions about Corps work should be directed to the Project Manager, Bill White, at (312) 353-6400 x3151. The Corps is:
· Planning to collect sediment samples this spring to look at whether chemicals and particles in the sediments might be released to the environment during the dredging. (TOSC has provided comments on the sampling plan and will review the findings from the sampling. TOSC has also requested to accompany the Corps during the sampling.)
· Re-examining the choice of dredging technology. Should a mechanical dredging process be used or hydraulic dredging? (TOSC has asked for information on the methods that the Corps is using for this review, along with an opportunity to comment on the report.)
· Developing a plan to monitor air emissions during the dredging and CDF construction.
· Developing plans to build a plant to treat contaminated water that is collected during the dredging operation.
· Developing plans and specifications for the confined disposal facility.
Citizen Questions and Concerns
TOSC staff members have attended public meetings and met with residents to discuss their questions and concerns about the IHC project. Their concerns are summarized below (a detailed listing of public concerns is provided as a separate handout titled “Citizen Questions and Concerns”).
TOSC Review Panel and Services
TOSC will provide services, with the goal of informing and educating community members on key aspects of the IHC project, including independent scientific analysis of issues that are of concern to community members. TOSC proposes to provide assistance in the following areas. The details of each item below will be provided in a subsequent document.
The TOSC Program, working collaboratively with the Grand Calumet Task Force, will publish an Outreach Plan in March 2003. The plan will detail the services that TOSC anticipates providing during the next year. TOSC will provide the document in draft form, and community comments and additions are welcome.
TOSC proposes to hold a series of community workshops to address key technical issues related to the IHC project. Our goal is to build community capacity for participating in the ongoing decision making about the dredging and CDF construction. The workshop topics will relate to the topic areas listed under “TOSC Review Panel and Services.”
Further, TOSC will review ongoing studies that are being carried out by the Corps or EPA (such as the evaluation of hydraulic dredging) prior to the Corps completing those studies, provided that the Corps makes available to TOSC the methods and plans for the studies. TOSC will also review any new or prior reports from EPA or the Corps, where TOSC and the community agree that independent analysis would be helpful. TOSC will provide comments to our community partners on any documents reviewed. All materials developed by TOSC will be published at the website www.egr.msu.edu/tosc (click on the Gary, Ind., link.).