The third in a series of forums to educate the public about the health and economic hazards associated with the proposed, massive coal-to-diesel refinery in Dale was held on Thursday evening, November 1, in the Heritage Hills High School auditorium.
Titled “Let’s Act to Save Our Health and Homes” and co-sponsored by Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life and Ferdinand’s Project ACORN, the event was attended by 160 people, who braved the wind and rain to hear Erin Marchand MD, Norma Kreilein MD FAAP, chemical engineer Randy Vaal, farmer Jerry Steckler, and Mary Hess, representing SICQL.
The group’s website is www.noc2d.com and was voluntarily created by Dr. Marchand with pro-bono support from other local healthcare/science professionals.
The speakers, all unpaid volunteers, expressed dismay about IDEM’s press release issued the week of October 29 that stated, without any medical citations, that the large volumes of pollution emitted daily from the refinery would cause no significant health effects in the area.
Speakers stated that IDEM’s report ignores a preponderance of evidence, scientific studies, and common sense to the contrary and illustrates Indiana’s history in recent decades of summarily approving super polluters in southwestern Indiana with seemingly no regard for public health. Of utmost concern is the state’s failure to address the area’s existing prevalence of cancer clusters, asthma, high infant mortality rates, high special education rates, and other childhood developmental issues and cardio-vascular illnesses already affected by air and water pollution.
Mary Hess shared that the all-volunteer citizens’ group already has 1,400 local and area citizens’ signatures opposing the facility, with more signatures coming in regularly and more lawn signs being requested. She also emphasized the importance of attending and speaking at the upcoming IDEM public hearing at 5:30 Central on Wednesday, December 5, also in the Heritage Hills auditorium.
Written public comments are also being accepted through Monday, December 10. Citizens are asked to refer to permit number T147-39554-00065. The contact information is Doug Logan, IDEM, Office of Air Quality, 100 North Senate Avenue, MC 61-53 IGCN 1003, Indianapolis, IN 46204-2251, FAX 317-232-6749 Attn. Doug Logan; or e-mail to dlogan@idem.IN.gov. The phone number is 317-234-5328 or 800-451-6027.
“We are concerned about our tourism and property values,” Hess added. “The site of this refinery–the first ever built in the western hemisphere–will surely diminish the beauty of our landscape as many people come to our area to enjoy the Hoosier National Forest and Lincoln Parks–not to mention the thousands of people who attend Holiday World every season.”