People In Need of Environmental Safety

What happened in the

Town of Pines?


In April 2000, the residents of the Town of Pines, Indiana, began to notice that their water tasted unusual, so they reported it to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).


Incredibly, the State of Indiana knew since the 1980's that the nearby coal ash dump was leaking arsenic and other contaminants into the creeks and groundwater.


IDEM did not reveal that the groundwater was contaminated, until after the residents complained.



Read the Story


Northern Indiana Public Service Company

Coal-Fired Electric Generating Plant In Michigan City, Indiana


     Northern Indiana Public Service Company, (NIPSCO) burns coal to make electricity, but impurities in the coal do not burn.   Instead, they remain as ash or Coal Combustion Waste.  These impurities include the same poisons that were found in the residential wells in the Town of Pines.


     According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, June 2002 report, "Since April 2000, approximately 55 residential wells in the Town of Pines, and 14 landfill monitoring wells have been sampled. ...  arsenic, boron, manganese, and lead have been detected in residential wells at levels similar or equal to those associated with adverse health effects noted in scientific literature"


     Much evidence points to the Yard 520 Landfill operated by Brown Incorporated of Michigan City, Indiana, as the source of groundwater contamination.  Over the years, Yard 520 was filled with more than one million tons of coal combustion waste from NIPSCO coal-fired power plants.  There were also many streets, driveways and low areas in the Town of Pines that were filled with coal combustion waste.

The Yard 520 Landfill


     In June 2002 it was becoming clear that IDEM officials were not going to act.  Then the residents of the Town of Pines formed the P.I.N.E.S. citizen group, People In Need of Environmental Safety.   Their efforts resulted in NIPSCO and Brown, under the direction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) , to fund an alternative superfund project providing some homeowners with bottled water or municipal water from nearby Michigan City.


     Currently the alternative superfund project is in the Remedial Investigation phase.   The documents and studies are difficult for an average person to understand, so PINES hired an expert hydrogeologist, to assist in interpreting technical information.  In the opinion of the experts at Geo-Hydro Incorporated, there are shortcomings in the Remedial Investigation.   "Accepting the lower level of understanding generates the potential that the resulting Remedial Investigation is fatally flawed and the subsequent remedial activities are ineffective at protecting human health and the environment."



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Current Events

News Stories

Radiation Survey

Microscopy Photographs of Soil Samples

Well Point Pictures

Documents Prior to Discovery by Residents

Documents from the Remedial Investigation

General information on Flyash and Landfills

Contact PINES



     Many residents contributed to this work, and much remains to be done, but Jan Nona in particular deserves the most credit.   Without Jan Nona, and the assistance of the Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC), the Clean Air Task Force, Save the Dunes Council, Geo Hydro Incorperated, and Senator Richard Lugar, it is very likely that no one in the Town of Pines would have safe drinking water today.