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Geocel starts water hookup in contaminated neighborhood

Several months after company officials had hoped the project would start, contractors for Geocel Corp. broke ground Wednesday and began installing city water lines to residents of the Meadow Farms neighborhood.
Marilyn Odendahl
Posted on July 10, 2008 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on July 10, 2008 at 2:09 p.m.

ELKHART -- Several months after company officials had hoped the project would start, contractors for Geocel Corp. broke ground Wednesday and began installing city water lines to residents of the Meadow Farms neighborhood.

In June 2007, Geocel announced testing found that chemicals from its plant had contaminated the groundwater and spread into homes south of C.R. 106. Since that time, the company has been providing bottled water to the impacted homes and put in carbon filters at some residences.

The company had hoped to install city water in April or May, said Sam Thompson, partner at Barnes & Thornburg law firm and spokesman for Geocel. But approval from the city took longer than expected and lawyers representing some of the Meadow Farms' homeowners wanted protective language inserted into the easement agreements.

"It's going to be great to get this completed because this has been an area of concern," Thompson said.

Laying water lines and connecting more than 100 homes is expected to be completed within 60 days, Thompson said. Then contractors will take another 30 days to cap the wells in the neighborhood.

Once the water lines are installed, Thompson said, the residents will no longer be exposed to the toxins.

Selge Construction is installing the pipes and environmental engineering firm Wightman Petrie is serving as project manager.

Roads in the neighborhood should remain open during the project but some individual lane closures may be necessary, according to Josh Weaver of Wightman Petrie.

Hooking the homes to city water is part of Geocel's plan to clean the neighborhood. The manufacturer of sealants, caulks and adhesives has entered into the voluntary remediation program, overseen by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Although the company has yet to submit the complete plan to the state, it was allowed to move forward with the city water installation.

Geocel is paying about $1.2 million to have city water installed, Thompson said. When the project is completed, the company will no longer provide the residents with bottled water. The homeowners will then be responsible for the monthly water bills.

Contact Marilyn Odendahl at modendahl@etruth.com.



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