Ethanol plant fights foreclosure
On the threshold of bankruptcy, Altra Biofuels has laid off nearly every employee of its Cloverdale plant.
Now it is fighting foreclosure by its financial lien holder, Agstar Financial Services, Indianapolis.
Also involved in the suit are Wilhelm Construction Co., Ryan Fire Protection Inc. and Gulf Coast Environmental Systems, which all have a stake in Altra's financial downfall.
A hearing was held in Putnam County Superior Court Monday and resulted in an extension to appoint receivership. Superior Court Judge Denny Bridges gave the attorneys until 1:30 p.m. Thursday to file receivership.
At an informal hearing Thursday, attorneys for both sides in the suit informed Bridges they were working toward possibly appointing receivership to James Knauer of Indianapolis.
"We are just not there yet," said Agstar's attorney Rick Richmond III.
Since Monday's hearing, an agreement gap has been narrowed, Richmond informed the judge.
The ethanol plant's problems go beyond financial and into environmental. It holds several permits with Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).
Those permits are in Altra's name, and the company is accused of being in violation of the terms of most of them, including its National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit. IDEM is demanding the Altra plant be brought into compliance.
Not only does Knauer not want to take over any of the permits, IDEM would not allow him to if he did.
Knauer contends Altra should be the one responsible for handling the cleanup IDEM is demanding. There are several options to correctly dispose of the polluted wastewater contaminating the land and nearby creeks, such as hauling it out by truck or railcar. IDEM only wants it removed from the site.
After hearing all parties' arguments and potential resolutions, Bridges agreed to set another hearing for 10 a.m. March 5 when he may appoint someone as receivership.
Before leaving the courtroom, all interested parties agreed they would do their best to settle the dispute within the week.