feel trapped by pollution
THE PINES, Ind. -- Gordon Tharp does not know why anyone
would want to buy the dream house he built near Lake Michigan
30 years ago. He wouldn't.
Tharp and many other residents of this scenic, wooded
town feel stuck because their homes are virtually impossible
to sell after years of groundwater pollution. The area
has been named a Superfund cleanup site by the Environmental
Steve Baker, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker
in Michigan City, said that during the busiest times,
not much property was sold in The Pines.
"Ten years ago, there was a little more, but not
a lot," Baker told The Times of Munster.
During the past two decades, the town's Yard 520 landfill
is estimated to have received more than a million tons
of fly ash, a byproduct of burning coal to create electricity,
from the Michigan City plant of Northern Indiana Public
Service Co. The EPA this year identified the fly ash and
landfill as sources of the well-water contamination.
Tharp, 61, used to dream of retiring to the South and
says he would leave if he could.
"But," he said, "you can't afford to take
He worries more, though, about the cost he and his family
may already have paid. He is concerned about his four
children and six grandchildren, who come to visit.
"What have I done to them?" he said. "I
may have hurt them and not even known it."
Cathi Murray, who lives nearby, knows the feeling. The
preschool teacher does not believe the house she and her
husband, Alan, own has real value. Nonetheless, they pay
several hundred dollars of property tax each year.
"We didn't pick a Superfund site," she said.
"It happened to us."
The Murrays bought their home in 1989, before their children
were born. Now Murray wonders whether the rare bowel disorder
Jessica Ann, 10, was born with and the hearing impairment
Alana, 8, developed had something to do with drinking
the water during pregnancy.
"To think I drank a lot of water when I was pregnant.
Did all that water have something to do with the way my
children were created?" she said. "I don't know."