CLOVERDALE -- In February, Altra Biofuels was knocking on the door of bankruptcy. Nearly every employee of its Cloverdale plant had been laid off and was fighting foreclosure.
Attorneys for Altra, Wilhelm Construction Co., Ryan Fire Protection Inc., James Knauer, Agstar Financial Services and Gulf Coast Environmental Systems, who all have a stake in Altra's future, appeared in Putnam County Superior Court Feb. 26 looking to appoint receivership. Judge Denny Bridges handed out an extension during the informal hearing.
Before leaving the courtroom that day, all parties agreed to appoint receivership within the timeframe given. It has been done. James A. Knauer of Indianapolis has been appointed receiver.
Along with being the receiver, Knauer is attempting to have the waste at the ethanol plant cleaned up. Altra holds several permits with Indiana Department of Environmental Manage-ment.
The company has been accused of being in violation of many of those permits, and IDEM is demanding the plant be brought into compliance. Initially, Knauer was not going to be allowed by IDEM to take over the permits, but that has changed.
Greg Cafouros, an environmental attorney with Kroger, Gardis and Regas out of Indianapolis representing Knauer, said Altra will not be making decisions regarding disposal of the waste.
IDEM and Knauer have signed an agreed order stipulating how the waste will be removed from the area. One avenue being explored is sending it through Cloverdale's waste treatment plant.
"It's a win-win situation," said Cafouros. "(Utilizing Cloverdale's facility) is safer and generates income for the town," he added.
Cloverdale's utility manager Don Guthrie said he doesn't know the exact numbers on how much waste the town will be handling or how long the process will take.
It is not a for-sure deal to have the waste hauled through Cloverdale, but it's one way to minimize environmental risk.
After the ethanol plant is in compliance with IDEM, it will go into cold shutdown. Essentially, it will be mothballed until it's sold to the next investor.
"That is the big picture," said Cafouros.