Legal battle continues over South Bend's ethanol plant - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Legal battle continues over South Bend's ethanol plant

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"The battle will continue," says Robert Salazar, Natural Chem's CEO.

South Bend's Ethanol plant is officially under new ownership, but Salazar still wants to buy it and he's fighting in court to have the original auction thrown out because he says it was tainted. "We need a new auction under the court. No collusion, enforce the big procedures, don't waive it for some and apply it for others."

He wants to purchase the plant and get it running again and he fears the investors who won the auction will liquidate. "We need to have a stay that prevents them from dismantling the plant, from selling the plant, from encumbering it with mortgages or whatever liquidators do."

But Interim City Attorney Aladean DeRose doesn't think that will happen. "The new purchaser is, I think, as interested as the city is in finding an operator."

She says the city hasn't communicated with the liquidators directly, but she doesn't think their ownership is a death threat for the plant. "We understand that they are looking at everything."

And Rudy Yakym Jr. hopes they look at the local investors that HE represents, who want to buy and operate the plant. "Best case, we negotiate a deal with the current owners and we put together an operating plan, raise the funds to make it happen."

He's following the court proceedings closely and hopes the judge will make a decision fast. "The longer it sits the more damage to the plant. It's a waste of an asset."

The federal court judge says he understands a decision needs to be made fast. He's hoping to rule on Monday.

FOX28 popped into the neighborhood next to the ethanol plant to see how residents are doing.

The city says the liquidators have agreed to keep the pumps running for now to prevent flooding problems in nearby homes and residents say things have calmed down.

"It's been quiet. Our pumps aren't running as often as they usually do since they started the well down the street," says Peggy Tomkiewicz.

Residents are also concerned about how all this is playing out in court. Again, the pumps are running now, keeping their basements dry. They want it to stay that way and fear what will happen if the plant is dismantled.

 

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