IDEM finds contamination at 15th and Poplar former business site

Ermisch Cleaners

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – News 10 received documents Wednesday from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management explaining contaminants had been found at the former location of Ermisch Cleaners at 15th Street and Poplar Avenue in Terre Haute.

According to documents released by EnviroForensics, an Indianapolis based environmental engineering firm, Ermisch Cleaners, located at 1528 popular street in Vigo County, entered into an agreement to look for, and resolve a hazardous substances issue.

“Ermisch Cleaners has entered into a Voluntary Remediation Agreement (VRA) with the IDEM. The objective is to achieve a “Certificate of Completion” and a “Covenant Not-To-Sue” (CNTS) in accordance with a Site-specific, risk-based approach, as provided for in IDEM’s Guidance … Ermisch Cleaners is seeking a Certificate of Completion and CNTS under Ind. Code 13-25-5-16 and 18, respectively, that (a) covers all the COCs listed in Section 4.3 and (b) covers the entire Site and areas off-Site where COCs have potentially migrated or will migrate in the future. The purpose of this RWP is to present measures that will address existing and potential exposure,” said the document.

In 2013 Ermisch Cleaners closed its doors for business after 130 years in the Wabash Valley. In an April interview with News 10, John Ermisch, owner of Ermisch Cleaning said the following about the business closing, “We’re very, we’ve been very happy in the business and so forth. But times are times, you know” said Ermisch.

The spill took place two and a half years ago. It involved PCE, a cleaning solvent that is carcinogenic.

“Those cleaning solvents have gotten into the ground water, and what you are seeing is the vapor extraction to extract the vapors out of the ground water,” said Chuck Ennis, city engineer.

The homes in the area are on city water, so drinking water is not a concern here. But the contamination is widespread.

“The plume of contaminated ground water extends all the way to the river,” Ennis said.

That said, the contaminants are below EPA contamination levels for groundwater. Another point the city made, the owners of Ermisch Cleaners reported the spill to I-DEM.

“IDEM has a voluntary remediation program where property owners can come to IDEM, notify them of a potential environmental concern, and then IDEM and the property owners work out a resolution to the problem,” Ennis explained.

The city hopes that other businesses take note of how Ermisch Cleaners used this program. The quick reporting of this spill facilitated a quick clean up, which will help the environment.

It may also save the owners in fines, which is a good thing considering the project will cost Ermisch Cleaners an esitmated $250,000. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you confirm your email address and acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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