‘Possible Headwaters contamination investigated’ – the truth behind the headline

Kevin Leininger, who writes for the News-Sentinel had a column a couple of week’s ago, which wasn’t entirely representative of the truth.

Possible Headwaters contamination investigated

(What conclusion would one make reading the above headline?  Nothing positive.)

From a previous AFW post on the situation:


This is for the monitoring of the old HubCap Express location in what is now Headwaters Park. The site also served a former life as a gas station. Apparently, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) did not receive documentation that this site had completed it’s monitoring requirements and could not close out the case. The contamination was petroleum-based as one would expect given the previous uses of the property. The resolution approves testing for one year at the end of which it will be determined if further remediation is needed. If so, it might be possible to combine the remediation with the bridge work that will be done on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial Bridge.

Redevelopment Executive Director Greg Leatherman pointed out that low levels of contamination were found before and that testing at that point indicated the contamination was not on the move or getting any worse. He also talked about the fact that Clinton Street itself seemed to be the border. If you sampled on the west side of Clinton, you found the contamination, but if you sampled on the east side there was no contamination. The underground storage tanks that had been on the site were removed 15 years ago. What was left was some left over soil that had some residual contamination. This was the only clean up site in Headwaters Park that IDEM did not receive proper closure documentation.

The contract is for $23,536 and granted to IWM out of Indianapolis. IDEM will grant $16,000 to the Redevelopment Commission to be applied to the project’s cost.

From Leininger’s article:

The city hopes a $200,000 federal grant will pay for an investigation into whether old underground fuel tanks have contaminated a corner of Headwaters Park – and will be enough to correct the problem if it exists.

Half right.  The federal grant was not secured simply for the former HubCap Express site.  The grant has been used to clean up other brownfields and there is money left from the grant in case further clean up other sites.  The $200,000 federal grant is for clean up – if necessary.  Part of the testing funds actually will be reiumbursed by IDEM as noted above.  The matter was before the DID Board in an effort to line-up the ducks, so to speak, in the slight case remediation is needed.  If everything is lined up and it’s required, it can happen on a timeline that can be integrated with other upcoming construction projects on Clinton Street.

This matter has been discussed a couple of times over the past year in Redevelopment meetings – there is nothing new here.  The explanation and situation has remained unchanged throughout the on-going discussion.  There is a very slight possibility the contamination on the property has spread and will require remediation.  The only reason this is being done now, is to provide the proper testing to IDEM so the paperwork is completed and the project closed out.  That is all.

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  1. Thanks for reporting the truth! I know headlines sell papers , but the truth is more important if we want to move this community forward in a unitd front rather than at odds.

    • Thank you, Judi and Deb! I’ve often joked that one could start a blog simply correcting all the daily media errors. There would tend to be an endless supply of material, but the question is, would it really make a difference?

      I’ve mentioned it before, but the problem I have with this particular columnist is the fact it’s passed off as “news”, often making an appearance on the front page. That’s a problem they try to get away from by including that disclaimer at the bottom of his pieces. That disclaimer allows much leeway when “reporting” the news, but does a huge disservice to the community, as evidenced by this article.

      For my two cents worth, about the only media source I rarely have an issue with is the Journal Gazette.

  2. The fact of the matter is that NO Fort Wayne Newspaper columists write their own headlines. These are all produced by the copy editors. And, Stephen, you are wrong about “that disclaimer at the bottom of each of his pieces” – that only appears when it is NOT a news item by Kevin L.

  3. Yes, John, we know that NO Fort Wayne Newspaper reporter writes their own headlines – perhaps that’s part of the problem?

    I meant to say bottom of each of his *opinion* pieces. But as you point this out, it also confuses the issue because again, it’s not always labeled at the beginning what is news and opinion. It is very easy to get confused as to what he is pontificating about at the moment. That disclaimer should be at the top or his column on the op-ed page when appropriate.

  4. We just have to face the fact that EVERYTHING written about people, places, and things “around Fort Wayne” are pure opinion! Except what comes from you or me, of course. LOL


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