“Why is this being rushed?”: Citizens against Lawton Cobalt Refinery

People are worried about the new cobalt refinery coming to Lawton, and they’re trying to do something about it.
Despite the plant’s location, residents said it affects the whole county, and they don’t believe it’s safe.
Updated: Nov. 20, 2023 at 10:05 PM CST
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Citizens of Comanche County are voicing their concerns about the up and coming cobalt refinery pilot plant.

Larry Cotton is part of that group, he said he wants officials to take a minute to think about what this means for the city.

”There’s enough concerned citizens in Lawton for them to at least slow down and re-examine the ecological issues and the economic issues,” he said.

Lawton City Council approved the start of the pilot plant back in August saying it will let officials to test whether or not a commercial plant is sustainable. Despite the plant’s location, residents said it affects the whole county, and they don’t believe it’s safe.

”The hazard of it is not enough to see if it’ll work,” said Benny Roberts. “It’s not a proven process on getting this nickel powder out of these materials. They don’t even have a mining place anywhere in the United States right now that will let them mine for the materials needed.”

Ashley Curtis said living outside city limits makes her fight harder. She and others can’t vote against this plan.

“The people that are putting this into motion, we cannot vote for them,” Curtis explained. “That’s part of the reason why we went to the commissioners meeting, because we feel like we aren’t getting our voices heard.”

In the meeting, a large group of citizens voiced their concerns to Commissioner Josh Powers. They shared their worries about the plant’s overall safety.

Powers said he supports those who don’t believe in the deal.

Along with a petition, the group has also created a Facebook page called “Comanche County Citizens Against Westwin Elements”. They said they want to inform citizens, and show city officials how many people are against the new factory.

”It’s a wide variety,” said Johnathan Barbour. “This is not like a political thing, there are people on both sides of the aisle on every issue you can think of but we’re coming together.”

Initially, the group planned to present the petition to city council on Tuesday in an attempt to stop the Comanche County Industrial Development Authority from signing the contract.

City officials told 7News the 1 p.m. meeting for that signing has been canceled.

You can count on us to follow this story as we learn more.