Ethanol plant fights foreclosure

Friday, February 27, 2009
Altra Biofuels now sits nearly vacant as only a remnant of its workforce remains active.

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.

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  • Does anyone care that they polluted our creeks only months after opening and they still aren't cleaning up the mess?

    -- Posted by Hazel on Fri, Feb 27, 2009, at 5:33 AM
  • No surprise. Short term solutions are never the answer to long term problems.

    -- Posted by reeltime on Fri, Feb 27, 2009, at 5:35 AM
  • *

    It has nothing to do with corporate greed. Ethanol just doesn't make sense scientifically or economically. I guess the corporations could keep the plants open at a loss out of the kindness of their hearts....but they don't have hearts. Only spreadsheets with red ink.

    -- Posted by tackleberry65 on Fri, Feb 27, 2009, at 8:37 AM
  • What a waste.Just another building to set empty.

    -- Posted by floyd'srangerriders on Fri, Feb 27, 2009, at 9:16 AM
  • How else can the buildings be used - so they don't sit vacant and attract undesireable critters, people, etc ?

    -- Posted by Scripted Spontaneity on Fri, Feb 27, 2009, at 9:36 AM
  • I agree with tackleberry65. This is just an example of the ridiculous emphasis now on "green" solutions to our energy problems. The losers are the American taxpayers who are being made to fund the subsidies for ethanol.

    -- Posted by not gullible on Fri, Feb 27, 2009, at 11:51 AM
  • Let's start making Everclear or Vodka. There is always a market for drinking spirits.

    -- Posted by CdaleResident on Fri, Feb 27, 2009, at 12:50 PM
  • UMad, I believe this is what Hazel is referring to:

    -- Posted by Fair1 on Wed, Mar 4, 2009, at 9:21 AM
  • I believe this was a scam from the very start. Look at all the lies they are finding now. And who suffers? The people they hired with a bright promising future. Now these people are out of a job like many other americans. I wish they could turn that site into some productive compacity and get those people that were laied off back to work. It is a shame that a new industry will set vacant.

    -- Posted by Dustybuster on Thu, Mar 5, 2009, at 9:14 PM
  • I'm with CdaleResident on this one, A distilery would be a GREAT Idea!!! Everything is right there for it!! Hey Putnam Chamber of Commerce, they ya go!!

    -- Posted by Afghan Contractor on Sun, Mar 8, 2009, at 3:51 PM
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