Editor’s note: This letter was sent to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management Office of Air Quality, Air Permits Administration [IDEM] by the author. It has been edited for length here.
As a concerned citizen of Cass County, I want my objection to the permitting of the [WSP Holdings (Waelz Sustainable Products)] project to be a part of the official record.
This application not only downplays the risk associated with this project, but it uses engineering numbers as facts, whereas the real facts, which are the results the sister plant to this plant in Millport, Alabama produces on an annual basis, shows far greater actual emissions from the same process and materials.
The plant in Millport, consistently emits significantly more lead, mercury and other toxins than what this permit states will be emitted. In addition, this permit seeks to process more hazardous waste product than the Millport location, which will increase the emissions byproducts as well.
As a citizen there are some facts [that] we request that IDEM consider before approving this permit:
1. This permit facility is directly adjacent, within a few hundred feet, to a large ADM Grain processing facility that processes food for human and animal consumption. This facility utilizes large outdoor open-air collection facilities for the grain.
This situation will allow for the grain to be contaminated when it comes into contact with the ground where the toxic materials settle, and the grain will be open to additional exposure once it is in storage as the toxins settle onto the open grain.
It is unconscionable to believe that exposing grain, meant for human consumption, to the contamination of lead and mercury from a facility just a few hundred feet away, would be allowed. This contamination will impact more than Cass County as the grain is used throughout the food supply nationally.
2. Cass County already has two large pollution issues in proximity to this facility and an ethanol plant next door to this proposed facility. Adding to the problem and current levels of pollution would not be in the best interest of the health and well-being of our citizens.
The nearby Essroc cement and incinerator operation emits toxic pollutants in greater amounts than they have been permitted to emit. They have been out of compliance 10 out of the last 12 quarters and have paid over $600,000 in fines. When the paying of fines becomes just a part of operating expenses as opposed to a real deterrent for unacceptable behavior, the citizenry pays a heavy price whereas the company makes even more profit.
This has to stop. What good are permits and regulations if the profit to break them exceeds the fines paid to comply? Cass County already has an active Superfund site that has been deemed to pose a health risk to Cass County. Additional heavy metals runoff and contamination will only exacerbate a currently bad situation.
3. The weather patterns for our area, primarily west to east wind, will bring the toxic material into our other businesses (1.5 miles), a juvenile detention center (1.6 miles), a state hospital (1.7 miles), schools and our local little league park (less than 3 miles) as well as 80% of our downtown and residential population (all less than 5 miles).
4. The area already suffers from the impact of mercury, whereas the local rivers (the Eel and the Wabash), which are within 10,000 feet of this facility, have mercury warnings regarding the eating of the fish. Both rivers are used by the citizenry for recreation three seasons of the year.
5. The area has been impacted by an Exide plant that spewed lead into the community for decades. The property still sits with signs around the perimeter, warning people of the toxic ground and to not contact it or disturb it.
So as a citizen of Cass County I want IDEM to deny this permit in order to protect the health and wellness of our people, our environment and community in Cass County.