Madison County community members concerned about proposed metal melting plant

MADISON COUNTY, Ind. — A proposed project in Madison County is raising questions from community members.

Locals say Newco Metals wants to build a smelting plant in Ingalls, off of I-69 and State Road 13. However, the company says that’s not true and released a statement regarding the matter.

“I’m concerned for my families, friends, our communities. There’s health risks, emission risks, there’s property value risks,” said concerned local Adam Truman.

The Element 13 project has Truman and thousands of others worried.

Truman lives only a few miles from the site of Newco Metal’s upcoming project.

Signs of opposition have popped up in Ingalls and surrounding communities, but Newco Metal’s president and CEO thinks the opposition stems from misinformation.

People are calling the new project a smelting plant, but the CEO says that’s not true.

“There’s not going to be big smoke stacks with smoke blowing through the air or particles flying in the air,” Chris Rasmussen said.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management permit classifies the Newco Element 13 project as a secondary smelting and refining of nonferrous metals, but Rasmussen says it’s a remelter plant.

“As we understand, that was a term that was used back in 2016, which also includes in there a nonferrous remelting furnace, which is now, as we understand, is called a remelter,” Rasmussen said.

Newco says the new $14 million project will bring 26 news jobs.

Rasmussen says concerned community members can come into their office and talk with him about the issues they have, but some in the area want the plant to be built further away.

“It needs to be far, far away from residential communities and schools. There are places like this that have industrialized zones. It needs to be built there, it doesn’t need to be built here,” Truman said.

Ingalls Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled to vote on the project on the October 21.

Newco Metals sent CBS4 a list of questions they’ve received and answered them:

Local Ownership – We are a proud locally-owned and family-owned operation that has been in business for 33 years. There is no one from “hundreds and hundreds” of miles away who is part of Newco Metals or Element 13. We live right here in Central Indiana, we raise our children right here in Central Indiana and we want to grow our business and make positive contributions to this community.

Air Permit – Our initial plans for Element 13 and our application for an air permit were submitted in the Fall of 2015. In addition to receiving necessary approvals from the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Town of Ingalls, we received our air permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management in January 2016, before any changes to the Environmental Protection Agency or regulatory landscape took place.

Closed-Loop System – The state-of-the-art closed-loop water cooling system we propose would keep water re-circulating within the system in perpetuity. There would be no water discharge from the facility and any storm-water run-off in the area would be regulated just as it is today by the Town, Madison County, and the State.

Pure Aluminum – There would be no need to “capture the ink burn” as we would only re-melt bare non-painted aluminum. No painted or otherwise marked materials would be recycled at Element 13.

Environmentally Safe – As we stated in the open letter, our proposed Element 13 project is designed with environmental safety in mind. That’s why our facility will be a re-melter rather than a smelter. That’s why all work will be contained within the four walls of our building. And that’s why we have pledged to you – our neighbors – that we would not only meet all necessary environmental regulations and requirements, but we expect to come in below the thresholds set by those regulations. Central Indiana is our home, too, and we would never do anything to endanger you or anyone else who calls this place home.

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