• WBST 92.1 FMMuncie
  • WBSB 89.5 FMAnderson
  • WBSW 90.9 FMMarion
  • WBSH 91.1 FMHagerstown / New Castle
Indiana Public Radio, a listener-supported service of Ball State University

Logansport To Do Its Own Air Monitoring Near Controversial Zinc Oxide Manufacturing Plant

By Rebecca Thiele, IPB News | Published on in Business, Environment, Government
A yard sign in Logansport against the zinc oxide manufacturing plant, owned by Waelz Sustainable Products. (Justin Hicks/IPB News)
A yard sign in Logansport against the zinc oxide manufacturing plant, owned by Waelz Sustainable Products. (Justin Hicks/IPB News)

The city of Logansport plans to do its own air monitoring for pollution from a proposed zinc oxide manufacturing plant in Cass County. Waelz Sustainable Products’ installed an air monitor in Logansport’s downtown earlier this year in collaboration with the county.

City Council President Dave Morris said the city’s testing site would be closer to the facility at Logansport’s wastewater treatment plant — which he said will allow Logansport to better protect its residents.

“That’s where the highest concentration would come into the city. So that’s where we feel like it would be the best,” he said at Monday’s city council meeting.

It would also test for more toxic heavy metals than just lead — including manganese, chromium, zinc and cadmium.

The Cass County Citizens Coalition donated more than $12,000 to the city to help buy air monitoring equipment. Susan Jarrell is the group’s treasurer and lives on the outskirts of town closer to the plant’s construction site.

“We thought it was very important to have our own to keep WSP to — you know — hold their feet to the fire so to speak,” she said.

The city plans to start monitoring air emissions at the wastewater treatment plant before the Waelz Sustainable Products facility begins operating. Malcom Jarrell, Susan’s husband and a retired chemical engineer, will be providing consulting services on the testing to the city. He said its important to know what the current air conditions are like before WSP is up and running.

“There’s also other current industrial operations in the Clymers area, close to where WSP is being constructed, and there’s a likelihood that there will be some metal emissions from those other businesses, that would be important to baseline,” he said.

READ MORE: Logansport Opposes Proposal For Zinc Oxide Plant In Cass County

Mike Englert is the plant’s general manager. He said the company has no issues with Logansport doing its own testing and plans to share the company’s results with the city.

“We’re doing everything we can. It’s not a requirement that we do this, but the hope is that, you know, folks will see that it’s — we’re not gonna cause any issues,” Englert said.

The Environmental Protection Agency will review Waelz Sustainable Products’ air permit. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is expected to decide whether or not to grant the permit next week. The Cass County Citizens Coalition filed lawsuits in attempt to shut down the project.

The plant was originally going to be located in Muncie, but city officials decided to pull out of the project.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said the Environmental Protection Agency would decide whether or not to grant Waelz Sustainable Products an air permit. That was incorrect. The EPA reviewed the permit, but the Indiana Department of Environmental Management ultimately grants them. 

Contact reporter Rebecca at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

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.