During the Cass County Commissioners meeting that was held Monday, March 2, there was an Economic Development Agreement (EDA) signed between the county and a company called Waelz Sustainable Products (WSP). Because the agreement was signed in a public meeting, that makes this future venture public, including all documents pertaining to the project.

It doesn’t take long to find out some history behind this company. They are a recycling plant, which will be using Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) dust from steel mills to make a zinc product. The company name, Waelz Sustainable Products, sounds environmentally friendly, right?

WSP has facilities in Turkey, South Korea and Millport, Alabama. According to the EPA’s 2017 Toxic Release Inventory data, their facility in Millport (Steel Dust Recycling LLC), which will be a “sister facility” to the proposed Cass County project, is listed as the second largest source of air emissions of mercury and mercury compounds in the United States.

In 2019, WSP planned on building a facility in Muncie. The land was purchased and ground work had been started. That was, until some concerned residents caught on to what was about to happen. Muncie has long been dealing with its Exide plant and their emissions so they were very aware of what was about to happen to their local environment with WSP’s proposed plans in their community.

A past IDEM air quality application for WSP’s proposed Muncie facility (I have publicly posted a chart on my Facebook page) listed that there would be 1,260 pounds of Pb (Lead) and 1,540 pounds of Mercury potentially emitted annually. Pollutants like this do not dissipate.

This is a concern for our community regarding the water we drink from our wells, the air we breathe, the fresh vegetables we eat from our gardens, the grass our livestock grazes on and the fish caught from our rivers.

Around 2012, Logansport’s former CARE group of concerned citizens opposed the Logansport government officials over their support of a project proposed by a company called Pryolyzer LLC, which was an incinerator for burning “recycled” trash pellets. The concern then was the emission of toxins into the environment.

In a document dated July 31, 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services showed that EPA Region 3, Office of Air Protection Division Office of Air Enforcement and Compliance requested that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) conduct a public health evaluation of another facility that is comparable to the one for Cass County. From the report concerning the facility:

“ATSDR concludes that a public health hazard is likely for young children and/or pregnant women living within 3 miles” of such a facility. It also states, “Young Children and/or pregnant women could experience long-term health problems from exposure to lead in the outdoor air. The developing nervous system in children is among the most sensitive health endpoints associated with lead exposure. Pregnant women may have a higher risk for miscarriage. The unborn baby may have a higher risk for premature birth, low birth weight, learning and behavior problems, and damage to their developing brains.”

WSP would be located in the AgriBuisness Park, located (upwind) three miles from downtown Logansport and less than 10,000 feet from the Wabash River.

When there is any type of concern raised by Cass County residents about a company’s project that could impact our health, safety, property rights and property values, we should be entitled to a public meeting. To my knowledge, no such meeting has been planned. A larger questions could be, shouldn’t there have been a public informational meeting before our commissioners signed the Economic Development Agreement for the project? I remember that such a meeting was in place before our commissioners signed the Decommissioning, Road and Drains, and the Economic Development agreements for the Harvest Wind project. Why would this be different?

I have been asked by many why there has not been any news coverage regarding this project in our local new outlets. I can only speculate that, like the rest of us, they knew nothing. My hope is that there will be information publish soon.

I for one, understand that there has been a huge learning curve about this type of a project. We have been told that these potential emissions are within the “accepted range” of what is allowed. Are these emissions acceptable for us in Cass County, and more importantly, is this acceptable for our children? Or is the potential for 90 new jobs over the next several years more important?

Economic growth is dependent on people wanting to stay and raise their families in Cass County. I am concerned there will be unintended detrimental outcomes regarding this project.

Lora Redweik is a resident of Twelve Mile.

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