PUTNAM COUNTY, Ind. — We’re digging deeper into past violations handed down to Heritage Environmental.

According to EPA records, the site just east of Russellville, received two informal enforcement actions and one formal. It also states it had 12 quarters of non-compliance and is in violation of The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

Dr. Gabriel Filippelli, the Executive Director of the Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute, previously explained more about what these violations mean. He said the RCRA violation was for environmental release, which he described as essentially a leak.

Heritage Environmental denied it was a leak, however.

The EPA did not respond to our request for an interview.

Heritage Environmental Executive Vice President, Ali Alavi said the violation relates to a disagreement between Heritage Environmental and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management over the level of detail required on a container label during an on-site inspection in 2019.

Alavi sent us this statement:

“The alleged violation relates to a disagreement between Heritage Environmental and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management over the level of detail required on a label for a container that was on-site at the time of the inspection in 2019.  We believe the label was in compliance with the regulatory requirements and IDEM disagreed.  After a brief negotiation, the parties settled the matter with no admission of a violation rather than litigate.  Some news reports stated the alleged violation was associated with a leak at the facility.  That is not the case.”

Alavi went on to say the database that records the violation is not the best at distinguishing between an allegation related to what would be considered a minor issue versus something more serious.

“The ECHO database must be viewed in context.  Once an alleged violation has been addressed, it remains showing as open until the agency closes the matter.  The official closing of a file often is over a year after the alleged violation has been addressed and a resolution agreed upon by the parties, thus the misleading appearance of a violation extending for multiple quarters when it actually promptly was resolved,” Alavi said.

Putnam County Health Department released the following statement:

At the time of the press conference, we had not been contacted by Heritage Environmental. Since then, they have agreed to allow us to do additional testing at the monitoring wells around the unit that will house this specific disposal. We do routine testing at the facility already, but this will be expanded testing specific to some of the waste that will be coming to the facility. We are also confident in the monitoring efforts of our partners at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, who regulate facilities like this.

Putnam County Health Department

The EPA has released the following statement via email:

“Before a permitted disposal facility may receive waste from a site being cleaned up under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), EPA determines if that disposal facility is in compliance with RCRA and other laws and is therefore acceptable to receive the waste. 

EPA has determined that the Heritage Environmental Services, Inc. landfill in Roachdale, Indiana is acceptable for receiving CERCLA wastes.  Information about EPA’s Off-Site Rule which addresses the acceptability of facilities to receive CERCLA wastes is here: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/site-rule.”

Environmental Protection Agency