Saying her concerns represented those of a number of Mitchell residents, Toni Talbott addressed the Mitchell City Council last week to complain about cement dust levels coming from Lehigh Cement Co. Talbott, in talking to the city’s leaders, certainly brought valid concerns about health threats and the potential for damage to vehicles. Mitchell Mayor Morris "Butch" Chastain and other council members told her they were aware that many residents were talking about the excessive amount of dust.
The company has since reacted appropriately and responsibly to provide explanations about the elevated dust levels and to reassure citizens they shouldn’t fear for their health or their property. Ed Epping, plant manager, pointed to weather as a big factor in the amount of dust at the facility - a factor that, of course, can’t be controlled. Epping suggested company officials are doing what they can to counter the problem. He also said the plant will take extra precautions, such as watering down the roads more often, to keep the dust at a minimum.
Responding to concerns about health risks, Epping said Mitchell residents can take comfort in the fact Lehigh’s "pollution-control measures meet and often exceed state and federal regulations." The plant, Epping said, is randomly inspected by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management twice a year, which means the company must be vigilant about safe operations. That includes an emphasis on acceptable dust levels. Epping also shared a simple tip for those who believe the dust is damaging their vehicles. He said adding a cup of vinegar to the wash water will counter the threat. A good rinse also is needed.