Metals recycling startup Exurban USA is planning to build a smelter and refinery in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but plans are on hold due to a lawsuit filed against them by a disgruntled family. The Bulmahn family, who have owned and worked the farm across the street from the planned smelter for generations, filed a lawsuit against Exurban USA, the Fort Wayne Plan Commission, the Fort Wayne Department of Redevelopment and Exurban Indiana LLC on Nov.10, after the plans were approved by the Fort Wayne Plan Commission on Oct.17.
The smelter is estimated to cost at least $350 million and would take in scrap circuit boards and other metals-bearing scrap to produce purified metals, but the family has argued that a facility of its type isn’t allowed by the local zoning code. According to the petition filed by David Bulmahn and his parents, Ronald and Janet Bulmahn, the facility does not meet the definition of a “recycling processing facility” allowed in the 12 General Industrial Zone. The Bulmahns’ claim the zoning law limits “recycling processing facilities” to facilities that more closely resemble materials recovery facilities (MRFs), which handle paper and packaging from households.
The claims stem from the family’s concern that the smelter, if built, will greatly reduce the value of their farmland. For about 150 years, the Bulmahn family has owned the 57-acre farm across from Paulding Road and are seeking to halt the smelter project.
Exurban USA has since released a statement explaining that though the lawsuit is “without merit,” the startup is working with the family to see if they can reach a resolution quickly. Wes Adams, co-founder of Exurban USA, wrote in a document submitted to the plan commission that, “at every step Exurban will comply with all federal, state and local laws regarding the operations of the facility, including seeking all applicable environmental permits.” Adams also wrote about the economic impacts and explained how the development is expected to employ 155 people with salaries between $50,000 and $70,000 per year.
According to E-Scrap News, the project is part of a recent trend of metals companies investing in smelters and upstream e-scrap collection and processing operations in North America.
Exurban USA is just one of several smelter projects that have experienced resistance from surrounding residents and environmental groups. In addition, air quality concerns have prompted further scrutiny, but the Exurban project has included air quality permits in its promise to seek environmental permits.
Smelters play a pivotal role in the circular economy as companies like HOBI rely on smelters as downstream vendors in the electronics recycling process. By reclaiming gold and other precious metals ITAD providers are able to reduce the time, money and energy required to mine new materials.
For more information about our ITAD services call 817-814-2620, or contact HOBI at firstname.lastname@example.org.