In the early 2000’s, the residents of Pines, Indiana reported to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) that their drinking water tasted unusual (3). Although the state of Indiana knew since the 1980’s that NIPSCO’s coal combustion waste dumping site was leaking arsenic and other contaminants into the creeks and ground water, IDEM did not reveal any information about the contaminated groundwater issue until after the residents complained (2). Higher than normal levels of arsenic, boron, molybdenum, manganese, and lead have all been found in the drinking water near NIPSCO’s coal ash dumping site, the Yard 520 Landfill owned by Brown Inc. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, coal ash was also used as road base and structural fill throughout the town (4). In February of 2015, the EPA and NIPSCO discovered higher than normal levels of arsenic in soil samples taken from seven of nine sampled Pines properties, including the lawn at Pines Town Hall (1). Due to privacy laws, it is not publically disclosed which residential properties have been contaminated.
Under the direction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NIPSCO and Brown Inc. agreed to fund a Superfund Alternative site project that provided municipal water to about 270 of the homes in and around the Town of Pines (1). Although they meet the exact same criteria of pollution severity, Superfund Alternative sites are not listed on the EPA’s National Priorities List for hazardous contamination sites. They have not been proven to be faster nor cheaper, but simply avoid the stigma of being labeled a Superfund cleanup site. Between 2002 and 2011, the EPA Region 5 (which consists of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) established more alternative sites than the rest of the country combined (4).
Sitting Duck is a satirical solutions company whose current campaign aims to inform people about the understated issues of Pines, Indiana via sarcastic propaganda and impractical solutions. Combining ironic realtor marketing strategies with trompe l’oeil products and installations, this body of work encourages people to question big corporation’s use of media and to take action against health-threatening issues. I fear that if we continue to misrepresent, disregard and understate publically known issues such as the situation in the Greater Pines Area, human beings will never realize the results of their actions as a whole. If you don’t know there is a problem, there isn’t one.
1. Augustyn, Heather and Lauri Harvey Keagle. “EPA: Arsenic ash used as landscape fill in 1970s in The Pines.” NWI Times. NWI Times, Feb. 4 2015. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. < http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/porter/epa-arsenic-ash-used-as-landscape-fill-in-s-in/article_3d97806a-9933-5cbd-a737-5a0e21b8ac31.html>. 2. “PINES V. NIPSCO.” Hoosier Environmental Council. Hoosier Environmental Council, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. < http://www.hecweb.org/about/legal-defense-fund/pines-v-nipsco/>. 3. “Town of Pines Groundwater Plume.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Sept. 2011. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. . 4. Wallace, Lewis. “Delay and denial in Pines.” WBEZ. Chicago Public Media, 8 Apr. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. < http://www.wbez.org/news/delay- and-denial-pines-106548>.
*All photographs in this project were taken by Kaitlyn Stancy.