Vertellus to hold neighborhood meeting to discuss powder

White powder from the Vertellus covered cars and yards Saturday.

Questions remain in a southwest Indianapolis neighborhood where a chemical plant spewed white dust over neighbors' homes, cars and grass.

County health officials say the substance won’t harm the environment, but so far no one can say exactly what’s in it.

Vertellus representatives fanned out early Monday morning to hand out letters inviting residents living within two blocks of the plant to come to an informational meeting at 7 p.m. Monday. The letters come as frustrated neighbors try to figure out how to get rid of the grainy dust.
"See it running over here, you'd think it would be coming clean," said Gary Walker, who has lived near the Vertellus Plant for 17 years. He spent the afternoon trying to wash the dust off his vehicles with little success.
Walker now wants to know exactly what's in the white dust that won't dissolve in water.

It's one of several complaints prompting Vertellus to hold a neighborhood meeting at the plant to discuss the release of the sand-like substance that blanketed driveways, yards, and houses early Sunday morning.
"Why ain't they got no kind of filter system?" Walker asked.

Hazmat crews from Wayne Township and the Marion County Health Department responded to the 1700 block of Moreland Street Sunday after Walker and his neighbors woke up to find the residue.

"It's all over my yard and my deck. It’s full of it. I've got footprints where you can see it, it's that thick," said Denny Parks, showing Eyewitness News around his property Sunday.

Wayne Township said the substance came from one of the plant's smokestacks and that it's a catalyst used to speed up the drying process there.
"I wish the EPA and everyone else would get involved in it and find out what’s going on," explained Walker.

Wayne Township Fire also identified the Substance as Catalyst NRP3 and says its like very fine sand that can not be washed away with water. But the Marion County Health Department says it has no environmental threat.  

Residents are cautioned not to make the dust airborne and people with pre-existing health conditions are also cautioned to wear masks when working in their yards.
"This stuff has blown in the air around here. They said we can wear masks outside when we cut the grass and wash our cars and stuff, but they said it's not harmful and stuff. How can it not be harmful if you have to wear a mask in your neighborhood?" said Walker.

Eyewitness News contacted Vertellus to try to get more information about the catalyst, but were told that information was not available and that the company made a decision to focus its efforts Monday on outreach about the meeting.