March 4, 2022

Indianapolis plant known for odor issues could lose wastewater permit

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Citizens Energy Group said Metalworking Lubricants has been discharging excess chemicals from crude oil and toxic heavy metals into its system — making the water harder to treat. - Rebecca Thiele/IPB News

Citizens Energy Group said Metalworking Lubricants has been discharging excess chemicals from crude oil and toxic heavy metals into its system — making the water harder to treat.

Rebecca Thiele/IPB News

A waste oil recycling company in Indianapolis could soon lose its ability to discharge some of its wastewater to a local treatment system.

Residents near Metalworking Lubricants Co. on the south side of Indianapolis have long complained of odor and other air pollution issues. The company has had repeated water violations too.

Citizens Energy Group said Metalworking Lubricants has been discharging excess chemicals from crude oil and toxic heavy metals into its system — making the water harder to treat.

The thick, oily goo from Metalworking Lubricants also prevents Citizens Energy Group's wastewater plant from working properly, but the issue doesn't affect the utility's drinking water intakes.

Citizens Energy Group has given the company until Aug. 31 to get into compliance or the utility will revoke its permit.

READ MORE: IDEM plans to address pollution, odor at waste oil recycling plant in Indianapolis

“We take very seriously our responsibility to protect the environment, and I think this is an example of that," Dan Considine, a spokesperson for Citizens, said.

There have been more than 100 instances where Metalworking Lubricants didn’t comply with its current permit — racking up more than $660,000 in unpaid fines. Metalworking Lubricants was also responsible for a mysterious oil spill into the White River in 2019.

“This is the first time that the authority has pursued a revocation since we acquired the utilities in 2011. So this is not a step that is a common step for us to take," said Ann McIver, the director of environmental stewardship for Citizens Energy Group.

If Metalworking Lubricants' permit is revoked, it would have to find some other way to discharge that wastewater or risk being shut down.

The company didn’t respond in time for comment.

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.

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