Noblesville says transportation museum mishandled chemicals on park grounds

Noblesville says transportation museum mishandled chemicals on park grounds

The City of Noblesville has accused the Indiana Transportation Museum of violating the terms of its lease after discovering leakage of chemicals on the grounds of the museum in the city’s Forest Park.

City officials said in a media release Wednesday that they have requested the museum take action to ensure containment of hazardous materials and to clean up the contamination. They also said that they voluntarily notified the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to request a more comprehensive inspection.

Representatives for the museum, which is dedicated to preserving the history of the state’s rail industry and has operated train rides on the adjacent Nickel Plate Railroad lines, could not immediately be reached for comment early Wednesday afternoon.

The leakage was not considered to be an imminent public health hazard, and the museum has been allowed to continue normal business operations.

The city leases the museum grounds to the organization and recently performed an inspection of the outside maintenance and storage area leased to ITM, according to the release.

This initial inspection found serious issues with outside storage of fluids and other items that could pose a risk, including container leakage and ground stains of oils, grease, diesel fuel and other products and chemicals used for the maintenance of ITM’s former railroad operations, the city’s release said.

“We look forward to working closely with IDEM so they can complete a much more thorough inspection of the site and help evaluate ITM’s plans for remediation,” said Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear in the release. “We will do everything we can to ensure local taxpayers do not have to pay for the clean-up effort caused by the ITM due to its careless practices.”

Noblesville and museum officials are in the midst of a fierce debate over the fate of the Nickel Plate Railroad.

Officials in Fishers and Noblesville, which split ownership rights along with Hamilton County for the 37-mile railroad, are seeking to convert sections that run through their communities into a 14-foot-wide pedestrian trail.

But the museum—the former operator of the track—is fighting to keep the railroad. Museum officials say that if a trail must be built, it should run adjacent to the tracks, not replace them.

The fate of the Nickel Plate took a sharp turn in March 2016 when the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority terminated its policy-of-use agreement with the Indiana Transportation Museum amid concerns about the not-for-profit’s financials and maintenance of the tracks.

The museum discontinued its popular State Fair Train rides last year, and is not expected to offer them this year.

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Published at Wed, 31 May 2017 16:41:00 +0000