Archive for the ‘Local Pollution Story’ Category

Steel Dynamics Inc. MEETING for Building Copper Foundry in New Haven

Friday, May 13th, 2011

On April 27, Steel Dynamics Inc. held an open meeting to discuss its plan for a new copper foundry to be built in New Haven, IN.  It began with a short presentation about the site, giving details of the furnace, what routes trucks would use and so on.  Afterwards, they opened the floor for questions.  Although only a few were informed of this meeting in advance, over 150 residents came to voice their concerns over the pollution this plant will likely produce.

US 30 View of Omni Source Burning

SDI, together with OMNI Source, has run Superior Aluminum since 1998, and has many of its neighbors worried.  In April of 2010, a leak of chlorine gas forced those nearby to evacuate their homes for several days while the haz-mat was cleaned up:  At the meeting, questions were asked about the day to day problems, like noxious odors, and blue smoke blowing for miles around the plant.  One man even had video footage of this, but the members of the board refused to acknowledge these claims.  Instead of attempting to answer the concerns, or giving detail how their new plant would be different then their old one, they pled ignorance of the environmental issues at hand, and couldn’t respond to something they weren’t aware was happening.

View from Coliseum Blvd from burningBurning from Omni-Source: view from Coliseum Blvd.

They have announced a follow-up meeting on May 17, at 7pm.  It will be held at The Orchid – 11508 Lincoln Highway East, New Haven, IN.  Their express purpose for this second meeting is to discuss the problems of Superior Aluminum, currently in operation.  If SDI claims that it is not aware of the pollution it causes now, then it will be impossible for them to prevent worse contamination of the New Haven area with their new plant.  This will have a direct impact on the greater Fort Wayne area, I urge you to come and voice your opinion on this issue.

Steel Dynamics has been busy, they also would like to build a steel mill “on the river” in southern Indiana.

-Les Lesser –
Save Maumee Promoter

6th Annual Save Maumee’s EARTH DAY FUNNY VIDEO!

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Well, we are considered a good natured bunch, with a sense of humor…

Celebrity Collage

See our attempts at getting some nationwide attention!  We gave a funny shout out to Ellen DeGeneres, John Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel, Steven Colbert & Oprah.  We figured any media attention is good attention, even if it is a little tainted!  We think that all the trash we pull out of our Three Rivers in Fort Wayne is ridiculous and wanted to share a little satire in our Earth Day efforts.  We have been accused of being “rough around the edges and a little crass,” so we did not want to disappoint!  Remember, we are a 100% unpaid volunteer group, so you get what you pay for!  Dirty rivers, however, are no laughing matter.  Let it be very clear though, we only want clean water, clean rivers and reduced pollution and we are willing to do something about it.  It is one thing that brings us all to a consensus.  Thank you for your continued support!

Thank you to everyone who make our events a complete success….AGAIN!

The first 30 seconds are specific to the celebrity, and the rest of the 2 minute video are basically the same.

For Ellen DeGeneres Video

For John Stewart Video

For Steven Colbert Video

For Oprah Winfrey Video

For Jimmy Kimmel Video

Our official statistics for our 6th Annual Earth Day alone:

  • 2 TONS of trash removed from our rivers & riparian area and floodways
  • 480 Native Trees planted
  • 150 lbs of approved DNR native seed planted
  • 4,000 sq. ft. of erosion control mats installed
  • $1,000 dollars worth of pre-grown plants (plant plugs)
  • Raised awareness successfully for 322 men, women and children that attended our open non-house!  THANK YOU!

Save Maumee’s 6th Annual Earth Day Celebration

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

~ Save Maumee’s 6th Annual Earth Day 2011
~ SUNDAY April 17 ~
~ 11AM – 4PM ~
All Ages ~ Rain or Shine ~  Action & Education ~ Seed Planting & Large Scale Erosion Control Project ~ Free Fun

Open-Non House…working on improving your rivers with only citizen sponsorship and 100% volunteers since 2005!  Looking for your back muscles!

See where to find the Earth Day fun CLICK HERE:

**Sign in and REGISTER FIRST and listen/read any information being presented about your rivers in Indiana – please sign the liability waiver, or you cannot participate.  (just keeping the lawyers happy :))Save Maumee Grassroots Organization is dedicated to raising awareness about the conditions of the 3 Rivers in Fort Wayne, Indiana while facilitating ecosystem restoration projects; ultimately repairing and improving the St. Joseph, St. Mary and Maumee Rivers. Revitalizing the St. Joe/Maumee Watershed will protect and restore the environment, while improving the economic, aesthetic and recreational value.  We are organizing hypothesis driven restoration projects, which place a high priority on monitoring, developing and restoring rivers with a positive environmental impact. Research into historical importance of our navigable waterways and current pollution conditions began in 2001 and Save Maumee began bank-stabilization projects in 2005 to begin the slow process of reversing years of pollution.

Watch our Earth Day Video from 2010!

Watch Save Maumee’s 2011 PSA
Save Maumee 2011 PSA

What else has been going on?

*Tree removal on Fort Wayne riverbanks due to potential levee disturbance: Save Maumee’s Response

*Saints on the Streets in Fort Wayne supporting cleaner waterways by encouraging homeless to clean up their streambanks…Save Maumee is proud that other groups and excited to know that other groups are working for the cause.

* HR 872 passed in the House: This exempts pesticides users who spray over water from obtaining a Clean Water Act permit. It will allow our waters to be polluted with high levels of pesticides which will damage public health and the environment. This legislation is a disaster.

Grand Lake St. Mary’s died in Ohio, so how is land application of industrial waste products being passed in Indiana HB 1112?  This will allow a variance from previously illegal land application of industrial waste products that were adopted by the water pollution control board for safety of citizens!  Another article may explain why this bill has been introduced.

* Save Maumee & other environmental groups made it to Washington D.C. for 2011 Clean Water Week! – See what we said

* Save Maumee has created a Public Service Announcement, and eagerly await play circulation!

* Our Save Maumee Presented at the Dash-In: Sounds of Saturn & Les Nester and brought in enough money to buy an entire bag of Midwestern Prairie Grass @ $530 per acre – we will be placing this under the erosion control mats!  Thank you everyone for making a GREAT evening with FREEBEE giveaways from: Green Dog, Neuhouser Nursery, Hall’s, Fort Wayne Outfitters/Bike Depot & Save Maumee goodies!

* Find out when the sewers discharge in Fort Wayne Rivers: To receive an alert email from City of Fort Wayne click here

* IF you think that The Maumee River is disgusting, this may give us a fresh perspective!

Other Happenings Around Town

April 29 through May 8th  – BUY A PAIR OF SHOES – Come on in to Fort Wayne Outfitters / Bike Depot and buy a pair of Patagonia Shoes! (rumored to be the most environmentally friendly shoes on Earth).  These two businesses are donating proceeds from sales of Patagonia Shoes to Save Maumee!

April 16   – Annual Eagle Marsh Clean-Up from 10:00am to 12:00pm
Meet at the Eagle Marsh barn for this annual clean-up to help remove litter from our restored habitats. Plants, wildlife and hikers will benefit. Please wear boots and bring gloves.

April 22  – Earth Day Tree Planting from 3:30pm to 4:30pm –
Meet at the Eagle Marsh barn. A tree planting at the largest habitat restoration project in the area is a wonderful way to spend some time on Earth Day. Join us to plant native trees and shrubs at Eagle Marsh. Please call 260-478-2515.

April 27thCommunity-based Green Infrastructure FREE public webinar, you can use Save Maumee as your watershed group!
Register here

April 29 –   Arbor Day Tree Planting at Eagle Marsh from 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Senator Richard Lugar is sponsoring a tree planting at the largest habitat restoration project in the area to celebrate national Arbor Day. Plant native trees and shrubs in areas at Eagle Marsh. Please call 260-478-2515 or email if you will be bringing a group or if you are interested in being a team leader.

April 30th & May 1st – Sol-Fest at Fox Island – Celebrating the outdoors with food, music & sun. If you want to participate in the fun or run a booth. Check it out

3rd Tuesday of every month – Green Drinks is looking for someone to organize Fort Wayne Green Drinks!  Please email Julia Gorrel at or 260.418.0071

June 25, 2011 – Riverfest on the banks of the St. Joe at IPFW!  Fun includes sea plane & water ski show, pontoon/kayak/canoe trips, fireworks, live entertainment on the rivers. Come & Celebrate the positive things about our rivers!  –  Steel Dynamics Inc. is title sponsor for RiverFest, sitting at the table with Save Maumee we look forward to the transparancy of business practices improve the health and wealth of our rivers!  Call Dan Wire (260) 580-7415 to get involved or check out://

September 17, 2011-  Save Maumee’s 5th Annual Canoe Clean Up, Can YOU Clean Up? 
11am- 4pm Free canoes from Fort Wayne Outfitters Bike Depot with ID.  Spend a fun day with family and friends on the river cleaning up and educating yourself!  Canoe Clean-Up Details HERE

October 4 OR 24, 2011- Save Maumee’s 4th Annual Seed Harvest at Fox Island Nature Preserve 1pm – 4pm, exact date to be announced depending harvesting availability.   Seed Harvest Details HERE

Why Save Maumee chooses Earth Day?
“So long as the human species inhabits the Earth, proper management of its resources will be the most fundamental issue we face. Our very survival will depend upon whether or not we are able to preserve, protect and defend our environment. We are not free to decide about whether or not our environment “matters.” It does matter, apart from any political exigencies. We disregard the needs of our ecosystem at our mortal peril.” ~
~~U.S. Senator & Congressman Gaylord Nelson ~ Earth Day Founder [EPA JOURNAL, April 1980]

Our group is citizen driven only and 100% volunteer.

Thank you for your interest and caring about our local waterways! We ALL live downstream!

Facebook – OUR NEW PAGE!
A Greener Indiana

Save Maumee’s 3rd Annual ~ Canoe Clean-Up, Can YOU Clean-Up? Update

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

3rd Annual Update to Save Maumee’s Canoe Clean Up, Can YOU Clean-Up?

~Underbelly of the St. Mary’s River Uncovered~

What an interesting day THANK YOU to all Save Maumee’s 60 energetic river workers! Police, a meth amphetamine lab, batteries, full fire extinguisher & spray paint, Kids Dart, Think Smart yard sign, a sink, metal car parts, a carpeted wooden box with incubator like dials attached, 2 wallets complete with driver’s licenses, full size dead cat, Pepsi can from the 1970’s, a Cookie Monster hat, thousands of cans/bottles/Styrofoam and cigarette butts, and of course plenty of tampons and fresh water jellyfish to finish the day. We also installed 40 square feet of erosion control mats to keep soil where it belongs.

 IMG_4354 - Copy.JPG

Many questions arose as to where all the fresh water jellyfish came from…a.k.a. condoms.  Local citizens flush them down the toilet, the combined sewer systems then flush them to the river with as little as 1/10th inch of rainfall.  They are not from extracurricular activities on the rivers! Remember, what you flush down your toilets and sinks DO NOT go away, they end up in our rivers.  To clarify questions asked about Combined Sewer Overflows please read the Save Maumee’s Blog post here:

The meth lab, found on the banks of the St. Mary’s by Carrie Morris, the wife of State Senate candidate Jack Morris, and Marlin Rossiter, prompted Bloomingdale Association President to summon the police.  What did it look like? It was a yellow tube, about 1/4th inch in diameter and three feet long, attached to a plastic bottle on one end and a plastic bag to the other end.  All of this neatly wrapped up with a dozen pseudo-ephedrine cartons in a gallon size zip lock baggie.  As Carrie Morris said of the find, “It is important that we, as citizens, take on personal responsibility to look after our city.  Save Maumee was impactful today, and I recommend anyone who is concerned about the quality of life in Fort Wayne to join them in their efforts.”

Interestingly, the police were extremely concerned about the soil and ground on which the meth was being manufactured.  They recommended that HAZMAT employees from the drug task force cleanse the area.  However, after realizing the bag with the manufacturing material was wet, it was then considered remediated, the baggie and contents were returned to the pile of wet trash from the river.



Be very aware that PEOPLE live on your riverbanks in Fort Wayne.  Here should be the following understanding regarding trash and these CITIZENS. Save Maumee past and present policy.  When you find an area where someone is living on the land, please remove anything that looks like it is decimated to the point of discarding.  If a blanket, for example, looks lumped on a shore after being washed in the Maumee River, please remove it.  If it appears that your dog would love to cuddle into a warm, dry blanket please leave it exactly how you found it, this may be considered property…Please move along to find other true trash and pollution.  It is not difficult to find true rubbish on Fort Wayne’s riverbanks.


This topic came up because a volunteer approached Founder of Save Maumee, Abigail King at 5pm and said, “I feel bad because I think I took someone’s home.  I removed a blanket and it was not very dirty.  I want to put it back where I found it. I feel like I made a mistake, what should I do.”  Abigail responded, “Here is the 30 yard trash container.  You can either go through it, find the blanket and return it to the place you found it, or you can pull your warm comforter off your own bed and give it to the riverbanks.  There are many homeless people and they will find another blanket to use or a place to sleep if you decide otherwise.”  None returned to the previous site.


Save Maumee is sending blankets and sheets next week to the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission as a good will gesture to honor the person who lost their possession and suggests all Fort Wayne citizens to do the same. If there is a used blanket in your closet taking up space, consider making a trip to the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission at 301 W. Superior St. to donate your warm bedding. The Mission said they would graciously accept gently used items.  If you are in need because you are missing a blanket, please request one from Fort Wayne Rescue Mission.  Fall weather approaches. 

Sometimes others feel like enough is not being done for our waterways, other times people feel like the issues are so large that individuals cannot make a difference.  Smash the status quo, feel empowered!  The homeless is definitely a discussion topic and would like your feedback as to leading by example. 


Now for a few funny asides:

Les Lesser entertained us and what an entertainer! I had people comment, “I love his passion, he is playing his heart out to only a few people – you can tell he would play the same to a thousand people, or a row of dogs!”  Now that is what a musician truly should be! YOU ROCK.

 Aaron Goulet from Local Level Promotions was the first casualty of the river that day.  The first family to disembark on their canoe journey of the day, fell in the Maumee when Aaron all his children in their life-vests, eagerly anticipating their first clean-up departed and flipped as Dad stepped into the boat! Sorry wet river lovers. They dried off and tried another successful attempt!


Phi Theta Kappa – Honors Society from Purdue University brought 10 people to remove trash! Large effort by another unified group that cares about your rivers!


What was the most interesting pull out of the river? Foster found the following at one site…A Bible, 2 candles, a pair of underwear, 2 condoms, and a roll of film.  hhhmmm…


Thank you for 2 competitors working together for cleaner local rivers, Earth Adventures and Fort Wayne Outfitters / Bike Depot donated  FREE canoes for the day.  Thank you to ACRES Land Trust for the reusable water bottles and the Health Food Shoppe and Old Crown Coffee supplying snacks & coffee!


Save Maumee’s Benefit at Berlin Music Pub brought in $160! Bands included: Twisted Aversion, Rise To Fall, DV8, 11M 12D, Autovator, Blood From A Stone,  with the help of B-Rad Music Productions, Twisted Music Entertainment – THANKS to everyone to make this a fun evening for all.



Saturday October 2nd, 2010 was Save Maumee’s 2nd Annual Fox Island Seed Harvest for the Maumee


Thank you bush wackers!  You know we cannot do this without you!  All of you did such a great job the past 2 years!  The kids love it and the adults find the identification of plants valuable and educational!


2009 Stats for the Seed Harvest – 2010 Stats will be available soon – still drying, sorting and weighing.

There were 28 volunteers present in 2009 that collected approximately 29 pounds of quality seed in the 4 hour allotment!

Volunteers will be sent out to find primarily Big Blue Stem, Indian Grass, Canada Wild Rye and a little Switchgrass and Prairie Dropseed.  The grasses that are taller than your head were the ones we were seeking out and the ones that Save Maumee spends all of your hard earned money upon!  Some of the seeds will be grown in our greenhouse (growing them into plant plugs)…and the rest we will be planting on Save Maumee Earth Day, Sunday April 17, 2011.

Harvested on 9/26/09 and what will be planted on In order of AMOUNT collected


The following in blue is a price list from Heartland Restoration/Earth Source Inc. (2009) and how much plucking it ourselves saves money!

Big Bluestem: $12/LB                            Save Maumee collected approx. 10lbs = $120

Canada Wild Rye: $14/LB                      Save Maumee collected approx. 5lbs = $70

Indian Grass: $8/LB                               Save Maumee collected approx. 2lbs = $16

Tall Iron Weed: $225/LB                         Save Maumee collected approx. 5lbs = $1,125

Wild Bergamot: $352/LB                        Save Maumee collected approx. 2lbs = $704

Gray Headed Coneflower $105/LB          Save Maumee collected approx. 2lbs = $210

Common Milkweed: $7/oz, $108/LB        Save Maumee collected approx. 15 ounces = $105

Switchgrass: $2/oz                                Save Maumee collected approx.   6 ounces = $12

Prairie Dropseed: $18/oz                       Save Maumee collected approx    6 ounces = $108


So how much is all of this worth in dollars saved by plucking it ourselves?

Approximately: $2,470 WORTH OF SEED!!! THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS!


NEXT Spring ~April 17, 2011 Sunday ~ 6th Annual Save Maumee Earth Day

  • Plant trees, seed, plant plugs, install erosion control mats and remove garbage on the banks of the Maumee and have fun doing it with live entertainment!
  • We will have horses available this year for $25/person/hour for guided tours on the banks of the Maumee, the price INCLUDES horse poop-pick-up! We don’t want to contaminate your rivers! Cleaning up your dog’s poop on a walk will also improve water quality, so don’t forget your plastic baggie when you grab Rover’s leash! 
  • A grand event in the works with 267 participants for our Earth Day 2010, so save the date to celebrate our Earth in 2011!


Upcoming Meetings:

  • Upper Maumee Watershed Partnership meeting scheduled for October 27th in Defiance, OH Soil and Water Conservation District.  Meeting will include working with Hoosier Environmental Council for support and suggestions to progressively work toward cleaner waterways.


  • “River Summit” to be held in early 2011.  A meeting is set for October 28, 2010 at the Allen County Soil & Water Conservation District 3718 New Vision Drive from 3:00-4:30 to identify how a summit could fulfill different organizations needs and how events and activities will be arranged and what a summit hopes to accomplish. 

Save Maumee’s Response to Attack on the Environment

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

This is the letter to the editor in response to Terry Smith from Columbia City’s piece. (below)

Postcard from 1910

Written May 11, 2010
Indiana is 94% reliant on coal-fired power.  Yes, energy independence from the burning of fossil fuels is a must.  If rolling black outs are a fear, consider putting a solar or wind powered system on your home and receive reimbursement for your investment on next years taxes and watch the savings add up over the lifetime of the house.  In In the 1970’s Germany had concerns about energy security concerns and began research and development.

“A federal Electricity Feed Law (StrEG) was adopted in 1991 and became the most important instrument for the promotion of renewable energy in Germany during the 1990s. It obligated public utilities to purchase renewably-generated power from wind, solar, hydro, biomass and landfill gas sources, on a yearly fixed rate basis, based on utilities’ average revenue per kWh. Remuneration to wind producers was set at 90% of the average retail electricity rate; for other renewable power providers, compensation was set at 65-80%, depending on plant size, with smaller plants receiving the higher subsidy level. The StrEG effectively subsidized the operation of commercial wind installations at 4.1 Euro cents/kWh, and jump-started wind power’s market breakthrough in the 1990s.   In addition, investment in wind power installations was also subsidized by a domestic, state-owned development bank, the Deutsche Ausgleichsbank, which offered low-interest, government guaranteed loans for new wind power development.” [Paul Runci. January, 2005  Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Technical Lab Report PNWD-3526]

Pro-consumer safety & health, cooperation, job creation and increased income are things that all Americans seek; not more of the same status quo of pollution spewing into our air, seeping into our water and contaminating soil.  The OLD mantra was, “The solution to pollution is dilution.”  The population grows at an exponential rate and dilution is no longer an option.

• Wastewater guidelines for coal-fired power plants were last revised in 1982. (Great Lakes Echo, Dec. ’09)
We need to genuinely clean up pollution rather than just shift it from the air to water. U.S. citizens depend on the services that
healthy streams and rivers provide at an extremely fundamental level. Anytime carcinogens are released into air, it eventually ends up in water and in soil.

• “Hatfield’s Ferry in Pennsylvania [considered the dirtiest coal-fired power plant in USA] has violated the Clean Water Act 33 times
since 2006; paid less than $26,000 in fines, but earned $1.1 billion in the same time period. Indiana power plants have discharged
other chemicals at dangerous concentrations, but few have ever been sanctioned for those emissions, nor were their discharge
permits altered to prevent future pollution.” (NY Times, Oct. 13, 2009)

• Fish Contamination advisories being issued on Indiana rivers, streams, and lakes are for PCB’s and mercury.” (IDEM, 2010)
Draft) “People living near some power plant landfills faced a cancer risk 2,000 times higher than federal health standards.” (EPA,
2007) Coal ash sites contain harmful levels of arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxins, which can leech out slowly and contaminate
drinking water sources or flood communities as happened in TN. The EPA so far has identified 49 coal ash impounds as “high
hazard” sites, meaning that a failure at one of the facilities could lead to the loss of human life. (Earthjustice, Dec 2, ’09)

• “If all states used electric energy as efficiently as the top 10 states in the nation, we could displace 62 percent of U.S. coal-fired
output.” (Amory Lovins-Rocky Mountain Institute)

•”Particulate emissions from coal plants cost Hoosiers $5 billion/year in health costs. Alternative energy create 4-5 times more jobs
than fossil-fuel and nuclear investments.” (Citizens Action Coalition, 2009)

Wind, solar, geothermal and energy efficiency are technologies that will create jobs, and benefit the health, environment, and pocketbooks of ALL Hoosiers to TRULY re-tool America for the future!

Abigail Frost-King

Save Maumee Grassroots Organization Founder
Watershed Expert
Master Naturalist


Save Maumee’s Letter to Editor was in response to this attack on Hoosiers’ health and well-being.

Hatfield Ferry Picture - The “dirtiest” coal-fired power plant in the USA

Northeastern REMC had been cautioning its users that by 2012 customers would be experiencing rolling brownouts or blackouts because the demand for electricity was increasing an average of 3 percent per year with no increase in supply.

How is the state of Indiana addressing this issue? The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission issued a mandate to the 31 electric utilities it regulates, including CCMU and NREMC, to reduce demand by 2 percent over the next 10 years. (See Order of Commission issued in Cause No. 42693, a copy of which I have in my office for your inspection.) That means that in 2020 I will have to disconnect my house from the grid for one-half hour each day, 365 days per year. For one-half hour of each day I can have no air conditioning, no furnace, no refrigerator, no hot water, no cooking, no plugging in my electric car, etc., etc. The list of my electric appliances goes on and on.

It is time for the governor of Indiana to tell the federal government to take a flying leap, send the mandates back to Washington, cancel the mandate from his own IURC, kick the greens out of Indiana, build a clean-air coal plant and keep Indiana humming. He could use a little backbone assistance from our elected representatives, too.

Drill for American oil now! Drill for American natural gas now! Build a coal plant now!

Buy a 10-year supply of incandescent bulbs and smash GE’s dangerous mercury bulbs. Power to the people.


Columbia City

Essex Spill in St. Mary’s – March 2009

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Just in case you missed it! Fort Wayne Essex Spill Early March 2009 –

Very interesting viewpoints. I think that Essex, Ft. Wayne, IDEM, Need to re-evaluate a lot of items. The tank that leaked should have secondary containment, which it did (containment vault) but secondary containment should be large enough to handle the entire amount from the original tank. Then the viewpoint (state environmental officials said there is no risk to human health) seems a bit premature because (The crews wore protective hazardous-material suits and respirators to filter the air they breathe). The chemicals are still able to cause burns even in a diluted state (Phenol is corrosive and even when diluted can cause serious burns after prolonged contact)….and it sounds like the fish kill was due to ice?

Toxic soup in St. Marys

Chemicals spill from Essex Group; river ice masks extent of fish kill

Dan Stockman
The Journal Gazette

A wire factory spilled hundreds of gallons of hazardous chemicals into the St. Marys River along the Rivergreenway and upstream from two popular parks, but state environmental officials said there is no risk to human health.

The spill, which involved chemicals that can burn the skin even when diluted, occurred Jan. 22 and was discovered Jan. 23. Essex Group, 1601 Wall St., notified state and federal officials that an estimated 300 gallons of a chemical mixture had spilled from a rooftop tank.

The tank was surrounded by a containment vault, but the chemical spilled out of the vault and into a stormwater collection system that drained into the river just north of Taylor Street, according to a report filed by Essex with the National Response Center.

The chemical mixture was about 50 percent phenol, about 40 percent petroleum distillates, and about 10 percent cresylic acid, Indiana Department of Environmental Management spokeswoman Amber Finkelstein said. Containing and cleaning up the spill has been difficult because the river is covered by a layer of ice.

Phenol is corrosive and even when diluted can cause serious burns after prolonged contact, according to National Library of Medicine data. Petroleum distillates are toxic and flammable, while cresylic acid can cause severe burns. In 1992, an Essex worker was burned on about 40 percent of his body in a cresylic acid spill inside the facility.

Some fish have apparently been killed in the accident, Finkelstein said, but it’s unclear how many.

“The effect on aquatic life still being monitored,” she said. “Because of the ice we don’t know the complete impact.”

Friday, a crew from Environmental Remediation Services in Fort Wayne was using a chain saw to cut huge slabs of ice from the river then lift them by crane to large roll-off waste bins. The crews wore protective hazardous-material suits and respirators to filter the air they breathe.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources spokesman Phil Bloom said a half-dozen small minnows were found dead in the spill area, but it’s hard to know whether more fish were affected because of the ice.

“What complicates the process here is because it is moving water, even under the ice, any evidence (of a fish kill) could be well downstream by now,” Bloom said.

Though the St. Marys River is not very clean, it does support a fish population, according to DNR studies.

Essex spokesman Hank Pennington said the chemical blend is used in its manufacturing process; the company, which employs about 200, makes wire, cable and piping. Pennington said the leak occurred because of an equipment malfunction.

He did not have an estimate of how long the cleanup will take or what it will cost but said the company will fulfill its obligations regardless.

“We’ll do what we need to do,” Pennington said.

The spill occurred just across the river from the Rivergreenway trail and just upstream from Swinney Park and Headwaters Park, but parks department officials did not know about the spill until contacted by The Journal Gazette on Friday. IDEM’s Finkelstein said the agency contacted the Fort Wayne Fire Department and local homeland security officials.

Fire department spokeswoman Susan Banta said the department did not contact the parks department because “we were not asked to make an official response.”

Local Director of Homeland Security Bernie Beier said parks officials were not notified because there was no danger to humans outside of the immediate area of the spill.

“IDEM felt the majority of it was trapped in the ice,” Beier said.

He said IDEM’s air testing showed there was no vapor threat outside the area and no threat from the water beyond where crews were already working to remove the ice.

“Had IDEM said, ‘There is a risk or a potential risk or we can’t verify the risk,’ there would have been more notifications,” Beier said. “They’re the ones that said there’s no threat to people beyond the immediate spill area.”

Clint Keller | The Journal Gazette

An environmental crew wearing hazardous materials suits and respirators uses chain saws and other tools to cut slabs of river ice and haul them away in the picture that was posted!

GE PLANT SPILL IN Fort Wayne Rivers!

Friday, February 26th, 2010

So “377,000 gallons of coolant was spilled [that]contained a corrosion inhibitor called 3D Trasar 3DT289, which contains up to 5 percent phosphoric acid and up to 5 percent sulfuric acid, both of which can be hazardous at higher concentrations.”

It is important to note that after tests are taken up to several hours later, the damage had been done to the St. Mary’s. The “coolant” will pass along downstream and become diluted.  It is naive to think that “it should pose no danger to residents or the environment.”

Phosphoric Acid – The phosphate may persist indefinitely in water. Is considered hazardous and burns skin….see for yourself. –

Sulfuric Acid  is a musculoskeletal toxicant, respiratory toxicant, skin or sense organ toxicant

No fines assessed?  What do you think?

Published:February 26, 2010 3:00 a.m.

GE plant coolant spills in river; no threat seen


Benjamin Lanka and Dan Stockman
The Journal Gazette




More than 300,000 gallons of coolant water spilled into the St. Marys River from General Electric’s Taylor Street plant this week, but company and state officials said it should pose no danger to residents or the environment.

GE employees discovered a water tower line break at 4 a.m. Monday, according to Matt Conkrite, company spokesman.

The leak was stopped by 10 a.m., but not before an estimated 377,000 gallons of the coolant spilled into the river, according to records from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Conkrite said the coolant water is used to keep machinery such as the air conditioner cool and also can be used as fire suppressant.

It should not cause health problems for residents, he said.

“We know for a fact there are traces of chlorine, but they are identified at levels well within normal city water,” Conkrite said.

The coolant also contained a corrosion inhibitor called 3D Trasar 3DT289, which contains up to 5 percent phosphoric acid and up to 5 percent sulfuric acid, both of which can be hazardous at higher concentrations. The product is used in water systems to prevent lime deposits and other buildup that can clog pipes, valves and tanks.

Conkrite said the levels found in the river after testing were not “a threat to anyone or the environment.”

Attempts to reach Environmental Remediation Services of Fort Wayne, which handled the cleanup, were unsuccessful Thursday.

IDEM spokeswoman Amber Finkelstein said water samples were taken in the St. Marys River both upstream and downstream from where the stormwater pipe empties into the water.

“At this time there’s been no sign of stress to aquatic life,” Finkelstein said.

Conkrite said the break occurred on an older line at the Taylor Street plant and the company was trying to correct the problem, possibly by bypassing the old line altogether.

The line that broke was a 16-inch pipe below a concrete floor, according to the state.

The coolant came out of the break and ran partly to the plant’s basement, or pit, and partly out a side garage door to the loading dock and into the storm drain.

Conkrite said the spill caused no damage to the rest of the plant.