Speedway: Illegally dumped oil costs town thousands per week; guilty party unidentified

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SPEEDWAY, Ind. — The Town of Speedway is asking its residents to help in identifying the party responsible for illegally dumping large amounts of industrial oil into the town’s wastewater system.

Over the past month, Speedway Wastewater has been working to clean up the contaminated water flowing into the wastewater system in an attempt to reduce the burden the oil is putting on the treatment system.

“If it happens once and maybe it’s something inadvertent,” said Speedway Town Manger, Jacob Blasdel.  “But now that we’ve seen more of a pattern, it’s certainly that much more concerning.”

Town officials say the oil in their treatment facility is costing them thousands of dollars per week, and the illegal dumping seems to be happening on the weekends during early morning hours.  The person or persons dumping the oil are likely using one of the many sewer manholes around Speedway, town officials said.

“It could be a 55-gallon drum, or more, each time that they dump,” said Speedway Wastewater Assistant Superintendent, Mike Davis.

“This illegal activity is causing a significant financial burden to our town as well as safety concerns within our plant itself,” Davis said.

Speedway says their treatment facility uses microorganisms — who need oxygen to survive — to absorb and break down waste materials in the wastewater.

“The large amount of oil being dumped is causing a molecular breakdown of oxygen before it reaches the microorganisms. Because of this, we’ve had to supplement our natural processes by purchasing additional oxygen, which is costing thousands of dollars a week to maintain,” explained Norm Berry, wastewater superintendent.

The extra money is coming from the town’s emergency reserve fund, Blasdel said.  He hopes the extra cost won’t eventually be passed on to town residents.

“Ultimately, that goes back to the people that pay their sewer bills,” Blasdel said.  “And that’s a cost that we don’t want to have to keep passing on.

The recovery of cost associated with the oil cleanup will be charged to the party involved in the dumping. If the oil dumping is discovered to be intentional, criminal charges will be pursued against responsible person or business, according to Speedway officials.

Water treated at the plant is eventually discharged into Big Eagle Creek, which ultimately feeds into the White River and other surrounding waterways.

“This is not going to contaminate our drinking water, this will not have an impact on that,” Blasdel said.  “But it is certainly still important from an environmental perspective.  We don’t want this water to get out into our waterways.”

So far, daily water testing has shown the oil has not made its way into Big Eagle Creek, Davis said.

Speedway authorities say the Environmental Protection Agency and Indiana Department of Environmental Management have been alerted and both agencies are offering assistance.

Anyone who has a tip or sees something suspicious related to the oil dumping is asked to call Speedway Police at (317) 246-4300.  Anyone who witnesses illegal dumping as it’s happening can call 911 to report it.

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