The county is seeking to build a tourist site with history out of limestone due to environmental concerns.

Monroe County intends to purchase limestone quarry land to create a tourist destination despite environmental concerns, Indiana media reported.

The Monroe County Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of 70 acres of land near I-69 and State Road 46 last week for $640,000 after purchasing nearly 30 acres north of the land in September 2021.

The ground surrounds an area contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from discarded capacitors used by the Westinghouse Electric Company in the 1950s. PCBs are carcinogens that affect the immune and nervous systems.

Specific contaminated sites were the Lemon Lane landfill, Neal’s landfill, and Bennett’s Quarry.

The EPA has placed the area on its list of priority treatment facilities and has designated it as a Superfund site, allowing the area to receive state and federal public health money. The EPA removed the site from its priority list after 35 years of cleanup in May 2021.

IU Professor Diane Henschel, who is contracted by the district to determine health risks, presented the preliminary findings at the August 2021 meeting of the district commissioners. According to the Herald Times, she said the levels of contamination are low, but the PCBs remain in the limestone and cannot be removed.

Henschel said the heavy rains could wash away PCBs across the floodplain, including the land the county will buy.

District Attorney Jeff Cockerill said in an IPM article that the site would be a limestone history center and possibly a PCB education center. He said the county council would vote on the purchase on June 14.

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