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February 16, 2001

 





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Article published February 16, 2001


Homeowners’ reaction to beryllium leak mixed
‘It just doesn’t bother me,’ 1 resident says


Shelli Lajti, here with her daughter, Kaci, 7, says that she doesn’t fear living on Weis Road a mile from Brush Wellman. THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY

BY JOE MAHR
BLADE STAFF WRITER


ELMORE - Shelli Lajti opened her door to firefighters wearing gas masks who came to evacuate her from the path of potentially hazardous emissions from the Brush Wellman plant.

But the release of beryllium dust in a smoke plume yesterday morning didn’t faze her, and she said she doesn’t fear living a mile from the plant.

"My family’s lived here forever," she said. "I’ve lived here 16 years. ... It just doesn’t bother me."

Mrs. Lajti was the only one of seven residents home when Elmore volunteer firefighters knocked at three homes on State Rt. 590 and four on Weis Road.

The incident sparked complaints from several other Brush Wellman neighbors,who weren’t in the path, like Bryan Sharples.

Mr. Sharples, who lives three miles north of the plant, has called for testing of nearby residents and properties for the hazardous beryllium dust.

"Usually the wind blows our way. Those poor souls got it," Mr. Sharples said.

But Mrs. Lajti doesn’t consider herself a poor soul.

"Maybe I’m nave, but I honestly don’t feel threatened," she said.

She said her aunt heard about the accident over a police scanner and called to warn her about 9:30 a.m. Mrs. Lajti said she watched TV news and looked out her window to monitor the situation.

About 10:45 a.m., she said, two firefighters with masks came to her door and asked her to leave.

Because of the evacuation, she had to pick up her two children from school because school buses couldn’t travel in the evacuation zone.

Dave Knipp, who lives across from the plant on S.R. 590, said his biggest inconvenience was picking up his child from school. Mr. Knipp said no one was home at the time authorities went to evacuate his home.

"I know people who work at the plant. They do the best they can and follow guidelines," he said.

No one was home at Bill Miller’s home, just south of the Lajtis’. He said he wishes Brush Wellman had contacted him personally to discuss the accident. Otherwise, he said, he’s not overly concerned about it.

"It’s a factory," he said. "Things are going to happen."


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