Tag Archives: Harding Street

Don’t Drink the Water

Welcome to Indiana, where taxes are low and regulations are lax. Just don’t get sick unless your employer provides health coverage, because we aren’t about to extend Medicaid, and by the way, you might want to boil your water before you actually drink it.

I’d been hearing concerns about Indianapolis Power and Light’s Harding Street plant for quite a while, so I finally investigated. What I found was disconcerting, to say the least. That plant is the biggest polluter in Marion County.

IPL burns coal in order to generate electricity, and it dumps the residue– toxic coal ash–  into unlined ponds next to the Harding Street plant. The plant is close to White River, and sits on an aquifer that serves a number of south side neighborhoods.

It won’t surprise anyone who has lived in the Hoosier state to discover that Indiana’s environmental regulations are among the weakest anywhere, and that the state does absolutely nothing about this–or about the other plants that produce coal ash. And we evidently have a lot of them; we rank second in the nation in the amount of coal ash we generate and we have more ponds than any other state.

We don’t inspect the dams and embankments that keep Indiana’s coal ash ponds from spilling. We don’t even require operators like IPL to monitor their own ponds and report what they find.

Meanwhile, the coal ash contaminates the groundwater we drink. A geologist hired by the Hoosier Environmental Council found concentrations of arsenic at twice the EPA standard for drinking water and mercury levels at 20 times the standard. Boron results were three times what the EPA says is safe for children.

Evidently, keeping business taxes low and regulations minimal–getting government “out of the way,” as the saying goes– is a much higher priority than clean drinking water.

“Let them eat cake” is so last century.

Let them buy Evian.