HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) -- The future is uncertain for a Dominion Resources Inc. coal-powered generating plant along Lake Michigan as its date for being shut down approaches, leaving environmentalists concerned about its fate.
Virginia-based Dominion announced last year that it would close the 83-year-old State Line Energy in Hammond, Ind. at the end of this month.
Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, said even though other power plants and other sources of pollution in Northwest Indiana remain, the closing of State Line will prove a significant cut in local pollution.
"The State Line coal plant isn't a small, incidental source of pollution," Learner told the Post-Tribune of Merrillville. "It's a major source of pollution."
Environmental groups have long criticized the plant over its air pollution emissions, and Dominion officials last year said the closure decision was made because proposed environmental regulations would require major upgrades to the plant. The plant generates electricity that is sold to utilities.
Environmentalists are pushing Dominion to hire an independent contractor to study the site after the plant is closed to establish the land's condition, Learner said.
"Dominion has the responsibility to clean the site up," he said. "Not just simply put a lock on the fence and leave it for our communities to deal with in the future."
Dominion spokesman Dan Genest told The Times of Munster that a company committee studying options for the site's future was expected to make a decision this summer.
Initial visions of the site becoming a retail destination were nixed after further research revealed major issues, said Phil Taillon, director of Hammond's Department of Planning and Development.
Portions of the site are not owned by Dominion, and the site holds electrical substations with power lines that can't be removed, Taillon said.
"It really complicates the project," Taillon said. "Dealing with one landowner with a project of this magnitude could be a complicated project. Now there's a second important landowner as well. It just slows down the process of any reuse."