Commissioner Goldman could use some help
In the overall scheme of things, we know few people in Harrison County who can tackle a job as efficiently as a farmer. And that’s why we are encouraged that First District Commissioner James Goldman, a Depauw dairy farmer, has decided to take on the environmental nightmare left behind at Central Barren by a meat packing plant, then a water bottling facility and, lastly, a barrel cleaning operation, known as 3-B Barrel and Drum Co.
Unfortunate as it may seem, the last operator, now out of business at that location, became the owner stuck with cleaning up the mess left behind, whether it was 3-B’s doing or businesses past. But with 3-B, the mere fact that barrels were being cleaned of whatever they contained conjured irate, frightening images of hazardous waste flowing into the ground. The business didn’t last long, not nearly as long perhaps as anything that seeped into the ground could be expected to last.
The Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management stepped in and spent some $110,000 to clean up the hazardous waste there. And Alan Blackman, the owner, was ordered to remove the items that remained.
The exterior of the decaying red-brick building doesn’t look that bad; it looks as though nothing has been left outside that a riding mower with a sharp blade couldn’t take care of fairly quickly. Blackman, on the other hand, hasn’t moved very quickly with hauling away the inside mess. In fact, he faces the distinct possibility that he could wind up in jail over the delay.
In 1999, Blackman pleaded guilty to two felony counts of storing hazardous waste at the building in Central Barren, off S.R. 135 in northern Harrison County. To avoid a prison sentence, Blackman agreed to clean up the mess by Jan. 1, 2003. He now must answer to the judge as to why he shouldn’t be jailed because he doesn’t appear to be working to meet the requirements of his probation, the part about clearing the building instead of going to jail.
We’ll see what happens there in due time, but, in the meantime, we’d like to applaud Goldman for his efforts. And while he is working with IDEM to find out what is required before the bulldozer can get to work, he might ask why anything else is needed at this point at all, at least from an environmental standpoint. IDEM has already spent many hours and many dollars clearing away the hazardous stuff. If anything is left there, the agency should know it. If they don’t know it, well …
And for having to hire a consultant, as always seems to be the case, to see what needs to be done appears unnecessary. For Harrison County taxpayers to have to pay any consulting firm to identify anything hazardous left at the site doesn’t make sense. We should be able to trust that our regulatory agency has done its job.
It seems to us that all that remains is a lot of junk, mountains of junk, actually, and a decaying roof that’s falling in all around that mountain. Most frighteningly, there is no way to keep a curious, adventuresome youngster from exploring the old brick cavern and getting trapped, badly hurt, or worse, killed by the falling ceiling beams or other debris.
Now, we don’t mean the commissioner should do all this by himself. But given the right resources, whether it’s the money to get the job done or approval from higher-ups, Goldman is in a position to shove a little to get what is right. This isn’t a campaign promise on his part, and it wasn’t an issue during his recent election, just something he knows needs to be done. The place is in his district, but it affects us all, it makes all of us look like bad, worse than sloppy housekeepers.