(CBS) — Environmental regulators and public health officials have begun investigating a septic company that has dumped raw sewage on a farm in northwest Indiana for nearly a decade.

WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports the Indiana Department of Environmental Management calls it “septage,” the substance that comes out of septic tanks and portable toilets.

Elkhart-based Grubb’s Septic & Sewer Service has been legally dumping septage on a farm in Osceola since 2005 – 2.5 million gallons so far.

WSBT-TV reports the company has a permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, but the water quality inspector for the area said she’s never been to the site.

Now the state and the county have opened investigations.

St. Joseph County Environmental Health Director Mark Nelson said he doesn’t believe it’s a good practice.

“People are going overseas, and getting the disease, and bringing it back, and that is something that can be spread through human waste like wildfire,” he told WSBT-TV in South Bend.

Sue Eakins, who lives about 1,500 feet from the dump site, said it can’t possibly be safe.

“It would be the same as if we opened our sewage system here in the house, and just let it simply pump out in the yard,” she said.

Eakins said tap water in the area stinks, and her family won’t drink it without filtering it first.

“Our water smells pretty much like sulfur. Sometimes it smells worse, and really smells like a septic tank,” she said.

IDEM and the county both have said inspectors will be sent to check the site, and test surface water to determine if septage has made it into the neighborhood and poses a public health danger.

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