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Neighbors of grease-cleaning business question if it should get renewed permit

Fountain Square neighbors want grease company gone

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Residents of the Fountain Square neighborhood southeast of downtown Indianapolis are fighting back against a grease-trap cleaning and processing facility that has been among homes in the area for 30 years.

Commercial Grease Trap Cleaning Corp. applied for a permit renewal through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to allow the business to continue processing grease in the facility at 1535 Deloss St. in Indianapolis.

Neighbors of the Fountain Square business cited odors and health concerns as reasons the facility should not receive a renewed permit at a meeting with department employees on Wednesday.

The business takes grease from businesses and brings it back to the facility to remove the water and send the remnants to a landfill. Neighbors note the building is open-air and only has three walls allowing scents to escape.

Commercial Grease Trap Cleaning Corp. has been in business for 50 years, according to its website, but only started operating at its current location in the 1990s.

“Why are we addressing this now and not 30 years ago?” questioned Cameron Perisutti, an affected neighbor.

A few dozen people attended the meeting to describe the odor and directly asked the department to deny the permit.

“People always lived here and, even before the facility operated in the 1990s, this impacted community was less financially secure and potentially easily overlooked,” Perisutti said. “If this was Carmel or Meridian-Kessler, this wouldn’t even be a conversation.”

Other neighbors said odors come into their homes through the pipes, keeping people from opening their windows or going outside due to the smell.

“It’s worse in the summertime when it’s hot out. It will smell like something has died,” said Rosemary Love, a resident of 10 years. “If it smells bad, then I can’t go out in the yard and work on my flowers, and my great-granddaughter here can’t ride her bicycle on the sidewalk.”

“I was a respiratory therapist for over 40 years and I was concerned that several of the neighbors were on oxygen at night,” Love said. “More than what I’ve seen in any other place that I’ve lived.”

State Environmental Management regulations require this type of facility to be 600 feet away from any residential structure, but an employee at the meeting clarified that, because this is a new rule, the business is grandfathered in and allowed to continue processing in the neighborhood.

Scott Issacs is the owner of the business. He said he came to the meeting to hear the concerns of the community but did not speak. He said he is working on ways to curb the smell. He does not live in the neighborhood.

“We’ve implemented some enzyme-type materials that are supposed to attack the odor biologically, which seems to have helped,” Issacs said. “We’ve used some other chemicals to neutralize it. They’re supposed to work molecularly.”

Some are concerned about health concerns, citing spills from the facility, and respiratory issues from the chemicals in the air.

Kristin Jones, a Democrat on the Indianapolis City-County Council, asked, “They talked tonight in the hearing about a spill and when it came, what was the material, what was the clean up?”

The Department of Environmental Management will accept public comments through Monday before making a decision on whether to renew the permit. More information on how to comment can be found on their website.