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NEWPORT, Ky. — After years of noise complaints, the City of Newport is getting some relief.

River Metals Recycling is moving its shredding operations to Cincinnati, but community members say there are other concerns. Many are worried about the environmental impact of RMR’s operations.

Community members said they reached out to the federal EPA about their concerns after failed attempts to get help from the state. Starting next month, they will collect data surrounding the facility through an air quality monitoring study.

“We’ve got a lot of complaints from residents that it smells like, you know, they are coughing burns,” said Andrea Ankrum, environmental health chair of the Northern Kentucky Sierra Club.

Residents believe the pollution is caused by River Metals Recycling.

“There’s no way to verify that without doing some type of air quality monitoring,” Ankrum said.

Documents show River Metals Recycling in Newport received three air quality violations from the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection in 2023.

Community members want the company to be held accountable.

“It’s very frustrating that the community has to show that somebody is polluting their environment instead of vice versa where the facility doesn’t have to show that they are not,” Ankrum said.

Now, they’re working to prove it. Eleven sensors are being put up in the area surrounding RMR. Ankrum is the project manager for the EPA study.

Starting March 1, they will begin collecting data that they will submit to the EPA.

They will use cameras to track activity at RMR to determine if the pollution can be traced back to operations at the facility.

There’s also testing being done at Northern Kentucky University. Students have been collecting soil samples from the area surrounding river metals recycling in Newport.

“The City of Newport and the Clifton Heights Neighborhood Association contacted us because they were concerned about potential heavy metal and volatile organic chemicals coming from the activities at the RMR site,” said Dr. Chris Curran, professor of biological sciences at NKU.

Northern Kentucky University was up for the challenge. The students got right to work.

They’re collecting data that can serve as a jumping-off point for the EPA.

“Our goal is to have this preliminary data that gives them an idea of where they should test what they should test for and that would be the final confirmation,” Curran said.

She said everyone wins in this situation.

“Students get the experience,” said Curran. “The community gets information they desperately want and need.”

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