Nickel Plate activists plan next steps as chemical spills are investigated at transportation museum

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- Community activists are not letting an investigation into hazardous chemical spills at the Indiana Transportation Museum derail their efforts to save the Nickel Plate Line.

The city said the museum is handling hazardous chemicals unlawfully. Thursday night, activists held an emergency meeting in response.

"It seems to be a pattern of the city looking to create an issue so that they can go in and then solve the issue by putting in this trail that they're advocating for," said Michael Saner with Save the Nickel Plate.

The city has proposed putting in a walking trail and removing the Nickel Plate rail line, but activists want to save it.

The board chair of the museum, John McNichols, issued a statement reading in part, "This latest release is simply another trumped up charge to reduce the significant public outcry against the cities of Fishers and Noblesville to rip up the rails."

City officials said the museum is not properly storing hazardous materials. It said containers full of grease, oil, diesel fuel and other unidentified chemicals are leaking and potentially putting water in jeopardy.

The museum said there are no known violations on the property.

"My concerns quite frankly is that this was all contrived and a very deliberate effort to try and defame and discredit ITM and ultimately bludgeon them to death," said Logan Day with Save the Nickel Plate.

Activists said the city's announcement could help their efforts, though.

"I think it helps us to be honest with you. I think that in reading the responses immediately from citizens to the story I'm seeing a lot of people calling the city out on this," Saner said.

The city is giving the museum 60 days to clean up the issues and three months to find a way to permanently remove contamination.

In the meantime, activists are planning a community rally Thursday in Noblesville.