Neighbors fighting to stop the dust blowing into their homes from Bartow cement plant

Plant owner says he's in compliance

BARTOW, Fla. - Every month, Willadean Walsh vacuums up at least a half a bag of what she believes is cement dust off her bedroom floor.

She says it gets in her house, all over the cars, and they're breathing it in.

"I've got three grandchildren and I'm worried about their lungs," she said.

The dust in their Bartow neighborhood is coming from KMR Concrete, just down the road.

Some residents in the neighborhood got so fed up, they went to the county commission last week to try and get it fixed.

Code enforcement found KMR Concrete had three violations on the back off the property, not zoned for industrial use.

"They weren't supposed to be using it at all for the storage of any materials or any processing," said Autumn Fenton, Code Enforcement Manager in Polk County.

Since they cited the plant, workers have already moved most of the stockpiles of concrete to come into compliance.

The owner told me they will also install retention ponds that may help.

"I feel like we are doing everything we can do right this second," said Matt Heidel, Owner and President. "In my heart, I don't think we are bothering them."

He admits the process is dusty, but that they try to control it by consistently spraying water -- something neighbors dispute.

Records show that the Department of Environmental Quality received complaints about the dust, but investigators found it met air quality standards.

"Something needs to be done," said Pam Turner, Wash's daughter. She said she frequently has to cut her visits with her mother short because she can't breathe.

"Our lives are half over, but the next generation is these little young'uns coming up and they're having to breathe this!" She said.

While their perseverance paid off with some action, they say their fight is not yet over.

Heidel maintains they're trying everything to be good neighbors.

"We do everything we can to minimize whatever dust we can," he said.

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