A lead-processing facility in Hammond emitted twice as much lead as the legal limit allows. That’s according to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, who issued a citation to Whiting Metals, LLC.
The company violated national air quality standards from August to October, emitting an average of 0.31 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) of lead. The national standard is 0.15 µg/m3.
The part of the facility that helps control pollutants caught on fire in September. But David Dabertin, attorney and Hammond resident, says the public wasn’t aware that its health was at risk.
“What good does telling the public that there was a serious incident there and you may want to take precautions a month and a half later? That’s absurd,” he says.
Dabertin also questions why IDEM approved the company’s permit in the first place.
“Really inflicting lead on a community when that community is already suffering from lead contamination made no sense,” he says.
In 2009, Saxon Metals changed its name to Whiting Metals — and Dabertin says it also changed its operations. He says the company should not have been allowed to operate without a new permit.
IDEM says it renewed Whiting Metals’ permit because it had no information to suggest the facility wasn’t following the law. We couldn’t reach the EPA for comment.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.