NEW CARLISLE - The Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Office of Air Quality is basing an air permit being sought to operate a new vehicle and metal scrap shredding facility in New Carlisle on “six criteria pollutants.”
During a public meeting Tuesday night to give area residents information on the air permit being sought by 360 Degree Metal Recycling, one resident stumped the panel of IDEM representatives with a seventh hazardous pollutant.
“Sodium azide...” offered Virginia Smith, of New Carlisle. “This is what they use in (automobile) airbags. It turns into acid and it burns you.
“All cars have airbags,” Smith said. “What happens when a car is shredded and (sodium azide) fumes get into the air?”
All three IDEM reps sitting at the front of the New Prairie High School auditorium turned to each other and drew blanks.
“We don’t know if the state requires the removal of airbags (before vehicle shredding),” replied Jason Krawczyk, IDEM’s permit writer. “This has not been evaluated before within IDEM.”
What is being evaluated before IDEM issues an air permit to the 360 Degree Metal Recycling Inc. are six criteria pollutants - carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, ozone and sulfur dioxide.
If approved - and IDEM reps Krawczyk, Doug Wagner, technical environmental specialist, and Section Chief A.C. Dumaual gave no indication Tuesday night that it wouldn’t be - 360 Degree Metal Recycling could construct and operate a $6 million vehicle and metal scrap shredding facility on what is now a four-acre concrete slab at a 25-acre industrial park near a railroad spur on Smilax Road in Olive Township.
Plans are for vehicles to be trucked to the facility, where they would be shredded into scrap metal, then put on rail cars and shipped off to steel mills.
At issue Tuesday night was air control at the site, which sits in a rural area where farm crops and livestock dominate the landscape.
Wagner said the company “is not going to store hazardous waste on the property.”
But the New Carlisle residents who packed into New Prairie High School’s small auditorium Tuesday were loaded with questions.
Most walked away with suspicions, particularly after IDEM reps’ said state air quality inspections at the facility would take place “every five years,” and that the company would be largely responsible for regulating itself.
“I just don’t trust this,” said John Gelow, of New Carlisle. “Everything I heard tonight is based on self-regulating. I don’t trust that they’re going to self-regulate. Whatever they can get away with, they’re going to do.”
IDEM performing inspections at the facility once every five years didn’t set well with Mary Countryman, although the New Carlisle resident did hold out hope that IDEM would at least consider the written questions the reps told those gathered to submit.
“I, personally, wasn’t satisfied with all their answers,” Countryman said. “I guess it all depends on how thorough we get a response to our questions.”
Kim Vanslager and her husband, Tim, reside across the road from the site.
Tim’s biggest concern “is other permits,” especially permits dealing with groundwater runoff from the facility.
“They have the same level as the water in front of my house,” Tim Vanslager said. “The runoff is huge.”
Kim Vanslager was hoping public officials could get their stories straight.
“My biggest uncertainty,” she said. “They’ve changed their stories throughout the whole time. Everything isn’t matching up.”
Despite the uncertainty over the future impact of the shredding facility on the community, Tim Vanslager has resigned himself to one potential ending.
“I don’t know,” he said, “they’ll probably approve it anyway.”
Staff writer Jeff Harrell: