IDEM Threatens After Sheriff Voices Environmental Concerns
LOWELL | The state's top environmental official is speaking out in a war of words between his agency and the Lake County sheriff.
"We have a sheriff who would like to be the environment leader for the county of Lake, and he's not," Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Tom Easterly said Wednesday during a public meeting regarding water pollution at Indiana University Northwest in Gary.
Sheriff Rogelio "Roy" Dominguez has been quarreling for months with IDEM regarding whether the state is aggressively monitoring the Feddeler landfill outside of Lowell.
The sheriff announced last year his environmental task force installed four wells within the 40-acre site west of Lowell and found evidence of fatal cyanide vapors leaking from the landfill.
IDEM later concluded from its own testing early this year that there was no health risk to off-site residents and demanded the wells be closed to prevent any pollution leaking from the wells into ground or surface water.
"I asked him for six months to fix it, and he didn't," Easterly said of Dominguez.
The sheriff could not be reached Thursday for comment. He said earlier this week that he refuses to seal the wells because the state first should perform further testing. The sheriff said the cyanide vapors are more detectable during warm weather months.
IDEM also has lectured the sheriff on getting involved in environmental law enforcement. The state agency obtained a legal opinion from the Indiana attorney general's office contending that state law gives IDEM almost complete authority to regulate and enforce state environmental laws, pre-empting county enforcement actions.
The sheriff said earlier this week the constitution and county ordinance give him the authority he needs in this case.