In May 2014, residents of Goshen, Indiana filed a lawsuit against the former Johnson Controls industrial site owners, claiming trichloroethylene (TCE) pollution was released into the groundwater that runs under Goshen High School and nearby homes. Now, nearly two years later, the federal government has cordoned off the area, where the plant once stood, and has declared that asbestos is present at the site.
According to a March 2 article in The Elkhart Truth, the property is now a designated Superfund site requiring either the government agency or the owners of the property to cleanup and decontaminate the site. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports visual sighting of asbestos and sealed drums with unknown materials.
The EPA is currently fencing-in the area, covering the materials with tarps and placing signage indicating the asbestos hazards. Although, the EPA will contact the responsible parties at the company to request cleanup of the site, the EPA can obtain Superfund dollars to do so if necessary.
“It doesn’t slow our process,” EPA on-scene Coordinator Andrew Maguire said. “We give them the chance and we do give them deadlines. In the meantime, we are making sure the wheels are in motion.”
EPA Superfund sites are established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites. The designation allows the EPA to clean up such sites and to compel responsible parties to perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-led cleanups, according to the EPA.
Exposure to asbestos is the direct cause of multiple diseases including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer – with mesothelioma perhaps the most tragic. Mesothelioma is a rare, incurable cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of the body’s internal organs, the mesothelium. It can take from 15- 60 years for symptoms of mesothelioma to become present, leaving those exposed with a life-long risk of developing the terminal cancer.