Sunman area citizens worried about a black fungus caused by evaporating ethanol are getting the public meeting they've asked for.
The former Deufol warehouse in Sunman, Indiana purchased by MGPI of Indiana in 2018. Google Maps image.
(Sunman, Ind.) – Concerned citizens in Sunman will get a chance to tell the Indiana Department of Environmental Management why they oppose a whiskey barrel house being established in their town.
MGP Ingredients of Indiana purchased the former Deufol plant last year. The company, which owns a massive distillery in Lawrenceburg, plans to house thousands of whiskey barrels at the Sunman facility while the whiskey produced in Lawrenceburg ages inside.
On its face, the proposal sounds harmless. However, a number of residents worry about a black fungus that is known to grow on structures near whiskey barrel houses. The unsightly fungus, baudoinia compniacensis, is caused by ethanol evaporating from barrels during the whiskey aging process – also known as the “angel’s share.”
Folks in Sunman don’t want their properties to be covered in the fungus, which has been visible on buildings in Lawrenceburg and Greendale for decades. Many have been writing to IDEM in opposition to the air permit which would allow for the barrel storage at the warehouse on State Road 101.
IDEM has now agreed to hold a public meeting about MGPI’s permit request. Public information officer Barry Sneed tells Eagle Country 99.3 it will take place Thursday, February 28 at 5:30 p.m. at Milan High School’s cafetorium.
Sneed noted that the Milan High School event will be a public meeting, not a more formal public hearing, which includes a court reporter who documents all testimony given during the hearing. At a hearing, IDEM staff do not answer questions. Recorded testimony at a hearing would be included in the final permit decision, according to Sneed.
“A public meeting is not a formal meeting like a hearing, and IDEM staff take citizen’s questions and answer them during the meeting. There is no court reporter and so there is no transcript of the proceedings. If we cannot answer a question at the meeting, we would encourage the commenter to submit the question in writing so IDEM can provide an answer as part of the final permit decision. IDEM will have staff available who have expertise regarding the permit application and they answer the questions at the meeting. Citizens can also submit written comments at a public meeting. Citizens tend to like this process better because they can generally receive answers to their questions at the meeting,” explained Sneed.
A public comment period on MGPI’s air permit request will also remain open through Monday, March 4. Comments can be submitted at the meeting, mailed, or emailed.
Sneed said comments will be included in the final permit decision document in the Addendum to the Technical Support Document.