Drink Water, Not Gas!

We are a large group of neighbors in the Traders Point area of Indianapolis concerned about a planned gas station development in our neighborhood. A developer is planning to bring a large 12-pump gas station and 7 retail shops to 8562 Lafayette Road (the southwest corner of the 86th & Lafayette Road intersection). 

So Why Drink Water and Not Gas?

Well, for starters- drinking good clean water has amazing health benefits and drinking gasoline might just kill you. Of course those are the two extremes. However, even trace amounts of gasoline can be very harmful to you, your children and the environment.

It only takes one gallon of gasoline to contaminate one million gallons of water. Only one gallon. This gas station would be just a few hundred feet from Fishback Creek which feeds directly into nearby Eagle Creek Reservoir (a primary drinking water source for Central Indiana).

Consider this from Scientific American: “Despite all the modern health and safety guidelines they must follow, gas stations can still pose significant hazards to neighbors, especially children. Some of the perils include ground-level ozone caused in part by gasoline fumes, groundwater hazards from petroleum products leaking into the ground, and exposure hazards from other chemicals that might be used at the station if it’s also a repair shop.”

Scientists have found that “dangerous airborne pollutants…could contaminate buildings as far as 100m away.” and recommend a minimum distance of at least 164 feet (50 meters) to housing & 328 feet (100 meters) for ‘especially vulnerable’ facilities such as schools. With Fishback Creek Elementary (serving over 500 young children in the community) less than 200 feet away (61 meters), it is definitely cause for concern.

Leaking underground tanks are not a new problem. Indiana currently has 13,448 underground storage tanks (UST) with 9,738 confirmed chemical releases. Even though Indiana has significant operational compliance with 94% of the UST meeting release detection requirements and 86% in compliance with release prevention requirements, they are still cleaning up 1,763 underground storage tank leaks.

In the most recent Marion County health assessment completed by the Marion County Health Department, they identified underground storage tanks as a significant concern to the health of the community. “Marion County had 187 leaking underground storage tank reports just from 2007 to 2013, increasing the risk of groundwater contamination. Leaking underground storage tanks often contaminate groundwater, presenting a threat to drinking water.” What is also significant is that over 50% of the cases were self reported (i.e. discovered using non monitoring methods such as an inspection). In addition, over 50% of the self reported incidents had impact to ground water. 

Even though there are regulations around underground storage tanks, the regulations do not address subsurface and surface contamination caused by small gas spills.  Studies have shown that even these small amounts are harmful to humans and the environment.

Consider this recent study by John’s Hopkins University: “‘Over the lifespan of a gas station, Hilpert says, concrete pads underneath the pumps can accumulate significant amounts of gasoline, which can eventually penetrate the concrete and escape into underlying soil and groundwater, potentially impacting the health of those who use wells as a water source. Conservatively, the researchers estimate, roughly 1,500 liters of gasoline are spilled at a typical gas station each decade. “Even if only a small percentage reaches the ground, this could be problematic because gasoline contains harmful chemicals including benzene, a known human carcinogen,” Hilpert says.”

It has also been shown that gasoline station employees more likely to develop chromosomal abnormalities and many types of cancer due to their exposure to the hazardous chemicals that make up gasoline.

With razor thin margins at the pump, oil prices falling off a cliff, and the surge in electric & hybrid cars it is very unlikely that gas station developers will do anything beyond the minimum required by law to protect their neighbors and the environment.

We could continue to cite study, after study, after study, after study on why this is just a bad idea for the neighborhood as well as the environment.

So, why take the chance on another environmental & public health disaster- especially when it is not needed or wanted in the first place?

Why Do We Not Want a Gas Station?

If the environmental concerns weren’t enough, here are a few more reasons why a gas station is not needed in the neighborhood:

  • An abundance of gas stations – over 30 (!) gas stations within ~5 miles
  • Major Natural Gas transport line runs through the property. (oh and there was a major gas explosion that killed 3 people near the intersection in 1985)
  • Flood Zone. Yes- a third of the property is in a flood zone.
  • Stormwater and runoff will discharge into the creek
  • Many safety/crime concerns as it is a major bike route for cyclists accessing eagle creek and the country roads.
  • Traffic concerns – the 86th Street entrance would be at the top of a steep vertical curve with a blind view of the intersection.
  • Community Atmosphere. Located near the Traders Point Eagle Creek Rural Historic District, the area is known for its quiet residential neighborhoods nestled between farmland and wooded properties. Located near many wonderful natural resources, there is certain rural charm, and the few local businesses reflect these qualities.
  • Property Values.  The addition of a gas station will not have a positive effect on the property values for the surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Gas stations bring toxic waste and vapors which even in low concentrations can have significant long-term impacts on the health of their neighbors.
  • Gas stations have failed at that intersection in the past (even when Lafayette Road was the major highway before I-65 was constructed)
  • Fishback Creek runs through the property & feeds directly into nearby Eagle Creek Reservoir, a drinking water source for Central Indiana.
  • Fishback Creek Public Academy Elementary School is located directly across the street.
  • Is there a business case for it? Draw your own conclusions
  • A look at the developer’s other gas station

If more than 900 people publicly oppose the development in the small market the developer hopes to serve, and they are willing to drive an extra 2 minutes to get gas, that would make it difficult for a business to be successful.

How Can You Get Involved?