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MPCA board asks for more information on Asbury facility

ST. PAUL -- On a 6 to 2 vote, the citizens board for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency instructed agency staff to research the possibility of requiring an environmental impact statement for a proposed industrial asphalt transfer and storage facility north of Granite Falls.

The action Tuesday by the citizens board on does not mean the MPCA will require an environmental impact statement, but it opens the possibility that it could, according to information from the MPCA's public affairs office. The matter is expected to return to the MPCA citizens board next month.

The action is a setback for Duininck Inc., of Prinsburg, which is seeking to build the facility.

It is seeking permits from the state and Chippewa County to build the facility on a sidetrack of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line at Asbury, located about five miles north of Granite Falls.

The company intends to erect a 130-foot-tall by 45-foot diameter, aboveground tank to hold 3,971,000 gallons of asphalt cement. The company will build infrastructure to eventually allow the construction of four such tanks at the site, Jason Ver Steeg, engineer with Duininck Inc., told residents in the area at an earlier public meeting.

Asphalt cement from the site would be trucked to the company's road construction projects in Minnesota and neighboring states.

MPCA staff completed an environmental assessment worksheet -- a screening tool to assess environmental impact -- and found that the company would be meeting requirements to protect groundwater. The staff members did not recommend that an environmental impact statement be required for the project. An environmental impact statement is an in-depth analysis used for major development projects.

Residents living near the site have expressed concerns about fumes and odors from the plant, possible groundwater contamination, and how so large an industrial operation near homes would affect property values. They have asked for an environmental impact statement so that social and economic impacts can be considered, and so that there is greater scrutiny of the environmental issues.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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