Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Indianapolis waste oil recycling plant to pay $300K for air pollution violations

Waste oil tanks at Metalworking Lubricants Co. are parked behind a chainlink fence with barbed wire on top. Beyond the reflective metal tanks with the company's logo on them are trees.
Rebecca Thiele
IPB News
Tanks at Metalworking Lubricants Co. near Indianapolis's Old Southside neighborhood.

A waste oil recycling company in Indianapolis will pay more than $300,000 for air pollution violations. It’s part of a settlement Metalworking Lubricants Company reached with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management late last week.

Among other things, the agencies said Metalworking Lubricants emitted more hazardous air pollutants than what its permit allows — including chemicals that can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat; make it harder to breathe; cause stomach and intestinal problems; and cause brain issues like headaches, tremors and even cancer.

Agencies also said the company often failed to operate its scrubber — which helps take out these harmful chemicals — and didn’t keep good records of its pollution.

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues, including this series on climate change and solutions.

As part of the settlement, Metalworking Lubricants will install a new system to reduce its emissions by 95 percent and connect all of its oil and wastewater tanks to that system as well as the scrubber.

For years, residents nearby have suffered health issues and complained of a smell similar to a gas leak coming from the facility.

Metalworking Lubricants has had several water violations too. Citizens Energy Group said if the company doesn’t clean up its act, it will have to find another way to dispose of its wastewater instead of sending it to the utility’s treatment plant.

As of Aug. 10, the utility said Metalworking Lubricants still isn't in compliance with its water permit.

Contact reporter Rebecca Thiele at or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Rebecca Thiele covers statewide environment and energy issues.