What would you do if you lived across the street from a contaminated dump site, and a free hook up to city water was just a signature away?
“I’m not signing,” was the response from Stanley Swinehart, who lives across the street from the site of the former Himco dump.
The 60-acre dump is located off County Road 10 at the Nappanee Street extension.
It was used as a dump between 1960 and 1976. The dump accepted industrial and medical waste, in addition to other forms of refuse.
Testing to try and measure the environmental damage on the site dates all the way back to 1984.
But only now, have residents in the neighborhood to the east of the property been given cause for concern.
"I drink it and Buddy drinks it, the dog there,” Jim Hoffman said of the water at his home on Northwood Street. “I make coffee out of it and everything; I have no problem with it."
Jim’s home is one of 39 that would be hooked up to city water as part of revised plans to deal with dangers posed by the dump.
Swinehart’s home is another. "It's a situation where they can't tell me my water is polluted, but they say it could be a health hazard,” he said.
Swinehart seems less worried about the threat of contamination posed from the dump across the street, than is he about getting stuck with a monthly water bill at his home of 45 years.
Accepting a free hook up to city water requires giving up all use of his private well.
"I cannot use any of the water underneath this ground. I can't water my lawn, can't water my flowers, I don't want to use city water," Swinehart said.
Although environmental testing has been going on at the dump site since 1984, the Environmental Protection Agency insists that the decision to extend water service to 39 additional homes is based on the latest information.
“We believe with the information we got there is that potential for people to come into contact with contaminated ground water,” said Ross del Rosario with the E.P.A.
Some of the more recent testing appears to show a high concentration of gasses on the Southeast portion of the landfill property.
The apparent fear is that it will move into the neighborhood to the east.