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May 18, 2021

7/6/2008 9:42:00 PM
Shelby County is Number Three!

Dee Bonner

According to the latest data in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory, Indianapolis metro-area companies put 5.5 million pounds of chemicals into the air in 2006, the most recent year for which data was available.

The amount is down from 6.4 million pounds in 1999, when the hoosier economy was booming. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management said new federal and state regulations have helped lower emissions but admits less activity at central Indiana plants is also a factor in the reduction of industrial pollution. The Indiana Manufacturers Association agrees.

The Indianapolis region's single biggest polluter is Indianapolis Power & Light. IPL's two plants in the metro area burn high-sulfur coal to generate electricity, a dirty process.

IPL was responsible for over half of the air pollution generated by industry in the nine-county metro area in 2006. But Shelby County was well-represented.

In fact, three of the top ten polluters in the region operated in Shelby County and accounted for about fifteen percent of the toxic emissions. According to the EPA, Bunge North America discharged 364,868 pounds, principally hexane. Meridian Automotive discharged 112,180 pounds, principally styrene and xylene. Knauf Insulation discharged 197,474 pounds, principally ammonia and phenol.

What!? Phenol? Really??

The EPA released the report in March, 2008. That was about three months ago. I was curious about local reaction to the EPA report, so I searched The Shelbyville News online archives for the newspaper's coverage.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a story.

However, I did locate a Shelbyville News story touting Knauf Insulation's new Engineering and Development Office. The company emphasized the huge energy-saving features of their expansion project and the subsequent minimization of CO2 emissions due to the installation of advanced technology. The article was published March 24, 2008. The EPA 's Toxic Release Inventory was issued prior to that date, it's too bad there wasn't at least a paragraph about the EPA report in the Knauf story.

Anyway, I think it's great Knauf has invested more than $220 million in its Shelbyville operations over a three-year period and is planning to save energy. But I was really more curious about what the company had been doing concerning the phenol and ammonia toxic emissions.

Industries use a wide variety of chemicals called "volatile organic compounds" in their manufacturing processes. The compounds cause chemical reactions that create ozone when they are discharged into the air and are then cooked by the sun. The EPA says ground-level ozone is bad for our health, especially for people who already have breathing problems. Ozone also damages vegetation and ecosystems.

Central Indiana struggled to meet the EPA's ozone attainment level of 84 parts per billion last year. Now the agency is toughening its standard attainment level from 84 parts per billion to 75 parts per billion.

Why is that important?

Because if Shelby County becomes non-compliant, regulators may be forced to deny permits for new manufacturing operations. Plus, it could become difficult for current manufacturers to expand their plants in Shelby County.

Economic development in Shelby County might grind to a screeching halt!

But with no cartoonist to blame this time, who you gonna e-mail?

Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, July 7, 2008
Article comment by: Kathy Kelley

Very Interesting because those of us that live under the Knauf plant have called EPA and the board of health in Shelby county about the nasty smell we have had ever since the city let them put this large stack above us. We have a terrable odor and we have it recorded on a daily basis. But so far we are getting no where. All we have got is it was once it was a formalihede burn off. And we get all kinds of junk on our cars. We just want to know how safe we are living under this stack. But do you see any of our elected officials living here. NO. But where the money talks this city certain can speak!

Posted: Sunday, July 6, 2008
Article comment by: Mary Hall

Thanks for the article! I have taken my concerns about the pollution problems in Shelbyville to the public officials who are elected to DO something about it. They listened, accepted my printed information, and thanked me for coming and speaking. I even gave the newspaper reporter who was present at the meeting a copy of my information. I have yet to hear/read anything about my part in the meeting. Nothing was printed in the paper. This problem seems way too big to sweep under the rug, but SOMEONE apparently is trying to do it anyway! I mentioned another pollution problem at that time as well, which seemed to make one person on the board a little nervous. It continues to be a big concern to me as I watch the big machinery continue to dig and move earth at the old GE/Wellman site. There is the possibility (or should I say probability?) that there is a great deal of hazardous waste buried in the ground around where the old building stood. When I asked if the owner of the property had had testing done on the soil before the digging started, a person on the board assured me that it had PROBABLY been taken care of. That really didn't give me much peace of mind. I would really like to KNOW if testing was done and the problem was dealt with. At this point, I feel very sure that NOTHING has been done and that someone out there has no intention of doing anything. Maybe if that person/persons gets sick like so many other people already have, then it might become an important issue! Keep up the good work you are doing, Dee. I will continue to spread the word about this web site to those who want to read about what is important in our little town!

Posted: Sunday, July 6, 2008
Article comment by: Jim Hall

Great cartoon and article, Dee. I did some research several months ago and my wife presented these frightening facts about our local pollution problems to the City Council and in a state hearing about the proposed ethanol plant (a hearing that ended up being a joke). Guess what? No one seemed very concerned. But people keep getting sick with cancer and unusual auto-immune type diseases in Shelbyville and Shelby County. How many people are going to have to die before more people become motivated to become informed and speak out about these local pollution problems? By the way, our local newspaper did not publish one word about the presentations my wife made at the two public meetings. Makes you wonder who didn't do their job of reporting on information of great community concern (health and safety). The reporters themselves or management?

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