alleges NIPSCO waste tainted town's water
Town of Pines residents, EPA group sue utility
By Tom Coyne
SOUTH BEND -- Two women from the town of Pines and an
environmental group sued the Northern Indiana Public Service
Co. on Thursday, trying to force the energy utility to
provide clean water to residents of the northwest Indiana
The federal lawsuit alleges that NIPSCO disposed of 1
million tons of coal combustion waste in a landfill near
the town of Pines. The complaint says that waste is now
polluting the ground water around the small community
near Lake Michigan.
"This contamination renders the water supply for
the citizens of the town of Pines and others undrinkable
because of the threat of dangerous constituents harmful
to human health in the drinking water," the lawsuit
In a prepared statement, NIPSCO said it "remains
committed to working on a satisfactory resolution to the
ground water problem in the town of Pines."
NIPSCO said it has worked with the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency on a project to provide an alternate
water supply to some areas of Pines by extending municipal
water service from nearby Michigan City. The project also
involved closing some private wells. The effort was "substantially
completed to the EPA's satisfaction" last month,
NIPSCO, headquartered in Merrillville, has nearly 700,000
natural gas customers and 430,000 electric customers across
the northern third of Indiana.
Jan Nona, a resident of Pines who filed the lawsuit along
with the Hoosier Environmental Council, said she did not
want to see a lawsuit filed, but said the group had run
out of options.
"We want them to take steps to get this mess cleaned
up," she said.
The lawsuit contends NIPSCO is violating the Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act through its "deliberate
and continued failure to address the endangerment created
by the waste it generates," the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit contends that "a judgment declaring
that NIPSCO has contributed, and is contributing, to disposal
which may present an imminent and substantial endangerment
to health or environment" is needed because "nothing
less than such an order will suffice to put an end to
the harmful pollution created by the waste."
The lawsuit says that on Jan. 24, 2003, the Environmental
Protection Agency ordered NIPSCO and "other respondents"
to pay the costs of 130 homes in the town to hook up to
municipal water lines, leaving about 260 homes to continue
to use their wells.
"We want to make them supply clean, safe drinking
water to our total area," said Nona, whose home is
not connected to a municipal line."