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Portland residents concerned about black dust on homes

Voestalpine black substance.jpg
Posted at 6:27 PM, Jun 02, 2017
and last updated 2021-07-27 15:20:39-04

PORTLAND, Texas — Editor's note: This article was originally published May 17, 2017.

Homes in Portland are covered in a mysterious black dust. People who live in the Bay Ridge subdivision are worried it is coming from the nearby voestalpine plant.

The dust is still under investigation and it is not clear where it is coming from at this point, but voestalpine tells KRIS 6 News if it is coming from the plant, they will take responsibility and try to resolve the problem.

"It's like a black, grayish gritty material," Spenser Dorsey, a Bay Ridge resident, said.

Homeowners say the black dust started covering their properties about a month ago.

"Here on the trampoline, I mean it's all over the cover. and then here on the little play set you can see it," Dorsey said, adding that the dust also covers window sills, the house, and his truck.

Some homeowners are worried strong winds are kicking up material from the voestalpine plant. They are working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, but some homeowners did their own tests too.

"We stuck a magnet to the residue, and it's sticking to it. So that's showing that it's iron based particles," Dorsey said. "So it's going to start causing rust eventually on vehicles and on the house."

Homeowners worry the dust will cause them to take financial hits.

"I'm worried that the home value's going to go down here, because I mean if this is a nuisance and constantly happening, who's going to want to move to this neighborhood?" Dorsey said.

They are also concerned about possible health hazards.

"Now that we have a child, I don't want her growing up if this is in the air and be breathing it. I mean is it harmful?" Dorsey said.

Representatives for voestalpine tell KRIS Six news they are looking into the reports of the dust.

"Company officials are working with an independent lab to test the substance and reviewing procedures to ensure that any bi-products stay within the boundaries of the plant," they said in a statement. "If it is determined to be from the plant, officials will take responsibility and remediation steps."

Wherever the dust is coming from, homeowners want nearby industries to be good neighbors.

"We lived here first," Dorsey said. "Take care of the damages and stop this from happening any more."