The recent unanimous votes by the Cass County Commissioners and Redevelopment Commission to proceed with our state-of-the-art zinc recycling facility are major milestones for our project and the future of Cass County. We are closer than ever to starting operations and putting Cass County on the map for green, sustainable investment and development that communities across the country will want to emulate.

Throughout this entire process, WSP has engaged with Cass County officials and residents the same way we approach operating our facilities – in partnership, with full transparency and with the highest degree of integrity. As part of this effort, we have worked hard to ensure elected officials and residents have access to all of the facts about this project and how it will enhance Cass County.

Unfortunately, and despite our efforts, members of a small but vocal faction of the community continue to engage in a campaign to intentionally misinform and unnecessarily scare local residents about our facility. In fact, they have made numerous efforts to intimidate the many local residents who support WSP coming to Cass County. As part of their efforts, these individuals attended recent County meetings and made numerous false, misleading and, in some instances, wholly fictionalized claims and allegations.

In addition to ignoring the science, data and facts, this group has moved on to launching personal attacks against me and my colleagues, calling us dishonest (which certainly is ironic), accusing us of offering improper inducements to elected officials and demeaning county officials by insinuating that they have somehow had the wool pulled over their eyes. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let me walk through a few of the false claims being made by the opponents – many of which can be disproved with a simple Google search – and share the true facts about our facility. And I encourage you to visit our website at www.WSPCassCounty.com for more facts about WSP.

For instance, opponents frequently invoke incidents at dissimilar and unrelated facilities in an attempt to deceive and scare people. A simple search would show that in the many decades of Waelz kiln operations in the United States, there have been no major environmental incidents. Zero. Waelz facilities are extremely safe and reliable – as demonstrated by our sister facility in Millport, Alabama, which has safely operated without incident for over 12 years, and the many other Waelz facilities around the world.

The opposition has referred to our project as “an experiment.” The reality is that for decades, the Waelz kiln process has been used to recycle Zinc Oxide from Electric Arc Furnace Dust (EAFD). Over time, this process has been refined and improved. In fact, since the late-1980s, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized the Waelz Kiln process as the Best Demonstrated Available Technology for managing EAFD. This is not an “experiment,” but a safe, proven process that has been encouraged by agencies whose job it is to protect human health and the environment. Zinc recycling perhaps is the most environmentally successful example of resource conservation and recovery under the nation’s waste management law since it was substantially amended in 1984.

No industry that operates with the fabricated, dire risks as described by opponents at recent local government meetings would ever get off the ground, much less be thriving globally for the past 40-plus years. But you don’t have to take our word on it. IDEM, their sister state agencies and the U.S. EPA are quite vigilant about enforcing their stringent laws and regulations to protect human health and the environment – and our facility won’t just comply with all state and federal standards, but exceed them.

Another individual claimed that WSP has not committed to creating jobs in Cass County. This, again, is false and contradicts the Economic Development Agreement that we have entered into with the county, which requires that WSP create new jobs, as well as the fact that we will need to hire qualified people to run the facility. Let me be clear, WSP will create 90 new, good paying jobs. If you visit www.wspcasscounty.com/job-opportunities and click on the link for the comprehensive list of jobs at WSP, it will tell you all you need to know about the number and type of jobs available, as well as the compensation for each position. This has been posted on our website since mid-May.

This same individual claimed WSP does not possess the proper permits to begin construction. To the contrary, we have all of the required permits to conduct the construction that we have undertaken to date. This fact has been confirmed by IDEM and the U.S. EPA, who in no uncertain terms confirmed that WSP is in compliance with the law as it relates to ongoing construction activities.

As we work hard to enhance the quality of life here in Cass County, it is disheartening to watch a group of citizens work against progress, opportunity and their fellow neighbors. We look forward to announcing our hire for plant manager in the coming weeks, and we will be hiring for the rest of the plant’s positions shortly thereafter so that we can be up and running by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

We are confident that our project will be a benefit for the people of Cass County. We have worked hard to engage with the community, explaining our project and answering questions, because it is important that residents have the facts about this project, despite the misinformation being circulated by a small group on Facebook and around the community.

We look forward to being a great partner to Cass County and an active and positive member of this community for many years to come.

Darci Ackerman is senior vice president of growth & new ventures and director of research & development at Heritage Environmental Services LLC.

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