Cleanup begins at Rieter plant

Demolition began Monday at the former Rieter Automotive plant in Lowell, the scene of a major fire Wednesday.

LOWELL | Cleanup began Monday with the town's issuance of a demolition permit for the former Rieter Automotive site, where a fire Wednesday destroyed about half of the facility structures.

Director of Public Works Greg Shook worked at the 101 W. Oakley Ave. site Monday to secure water lines to wet down particulates, some of which are asbestos. The effort will keep materials out of the air, where it could pose a health risk.

Wilbur Cox, director of community development, said McAllister Inc. of Cedar Lake will handle demolition. McAllister employee Tom Cleland was at the site by noon Monday surveying the grounds.

Jimmy Harper, the project manager for BRT Indiana LLC, a recycling and sales company, is overseeing cleanup.

"Everything but the warehouse is gone," Harper said.

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Americo Engineering of Valparaiso handled the environmental survey, and Safe Environmental Corp. of Highland will perform asbestos abatement, Harper said.

"We're concentrating on everything that's on the ground," said Harper, who expects work to be done within 30 days.

His company is affiliated with WEL Companies Inc. of De Pere, Wis., a transportation enterprise that bought the property nearly a month ago from Rieter Automotive Systems, a division of Winterhur of Switzerland, which produced noise-control and automotive trim products for automobile and appliance manufacturers.

Harper said the company will use the warehouse for cold storage as originally intended.

"I plan to be proactive and put in a 1,000-gallon water tank with high pressure. We can't let this happen again," Harper said.

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