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Duke Energy to Begin Environmental Work at Former Seymour Industrial Site May 4, 2009

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Duke Energy will perform an environmental cleanup at a former Seymour industrial site at the southwest corner of West Second and Pine streets.

Next week Duke Energy will begin excavating tar and surrounding soil from beneath the parking lot and yard at that location. The building on site is currently vacant. A predecessor company of Duke Energy owned a plant that manufactured gas from oil and petroleum coke at that site from 1886 to 1930. 

Before pipelines brought natural gas to the Midwest, gas was manufactured locally to serve the energy needs of hundreds of communities. Gas lamps lit streets and buildings in the 19th century until electricity became commonplace, while manufactured gas continued to fuel cooking and heating until the mid-20th century.

“The work is part of our program to clean up these former industrial sites where byproducts and residues were left behind,” said Chip Orben, Duke Energy’s Seymour business relations manager. “We are working in cooperation with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to clean up the site and bring it up to current environmental standards.” 

Duke Energy has contracted with Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company Inc., an engineering firm experienced with manufactured gas sites, to oversee and monitor the cleanup. Workers will primarily be excavating tar and surrounding soil from the ground and hauling it away for disposal. The tar has a strong tar and mothball-type of odor, which may be noticeable during some of the excavation.

“We are going to do what we can to minimize the smell, but it can be hard to contain,” Orben said. “At these levels, there’s typically no health threat, it’s just not pleasant to be around. While we’ll be working at the site throughout the month, the odor will not be noticeable for that entire time. Continuous air monitoring will be done during the excavation. We are sorry for any inconvenience this work may cause.”

As with many industrial operations, gas manufacturing created byproducts, primarily tar. The tar was often sold for use in roofing and paving materials. When the plants were closed, however, tar and other residues were sometimes left on the properties, usually in underground structures.
Environmental laws require former owners and operators of industrial sites such as this to investigate the properties and, if necessary, clean them up.

Duke Energy’s Indiana operations provide approximately 7,300 net megawatts of electricity to approximately 775,000 electric customers, making it the state’s largest electric supplier. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 500 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available on the Internet at:

Contact: Angeline Protogere
Phone: 317-838-1338
24-Hour Phone: 800-559-3853 (DUKE)

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