Cass County residents protest proposed zinc production plant

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Waelz Sustainable Products sign at Borg Warner site in Muncie

LOGANSPORT, Ind. — Some Cass County residents gathered Wednesday morning to protest a zinc production plant expected to open in that area next year.

These residents say they’re concerned about their health and the pollution the plant would emit.

Waelz Sustainable Product (WSP) officials say the proposed facility would would melt down steel mill byproducts to create zinc oxide. That could then be turned into products like sunscreen, vitamins, tire and rubber.

Some residents, though, say this plant doesn’t belong in their neighborhood, and they’re concerned about the hazardous emissions the plant could bring to the area, like lead and mercury.

A group of residents have banded together to create the Cass County Citizens’ Coalition in hopes of persuading county official to reject the project once and for all.

The group points to a similar situation that was scrapped in Muncie just last year.

The same company,  Waelz Sustainable Products tried to build a plant there, but Muncie residents came together there to block it.

Now Cass County residents say the company is trying to do the same thing in their neighborhood.

“Muncie got their citizens really riled up, and then finally it came to the attention of a number of scientists and professors at Ball State,” said Bryon Stephens, a member of the Cass County Citizens’ Coalition group “They looked into the health consequences of this and then that spread into their medical community,” he added.

Those at WSP argue any emissions from the proposed plant would abide by any environmental regulations.

WSP officials also say the project would bring 90 full-time jobs and roughly 130 construction jobs.

Officials say while they understand some community concerns, they have already held some public and virtual meetings and will hold more when allowed.

“We’re hoping to do that on a more robust basis once we’re able to host a much larger gathering, say for example in a high school auditorium or local amphitheater,” said Ali Alavi, Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and General Council for Heritage Environmental Services.

WSP hopes to have the plant up and running by early 2021. The proposal still needs to be passed by the county commission.

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