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MPCA will not require environmental impact statement for Duininck tank project

ASBURY -- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will not require an environmental impact statement for a proposal by Duininck Inc., of Prinsburg, to construct a large asphalt storage facility in Chippewa County.

By a 6-1 vote Tuesday, the citizens board of the MPCA adopted a staff recommendation to find a "negative declaration'' for an environmental impact statement -- an in-depth analysis of a development project that will significantly change the environment. Board members indicated that they were satisfied with the conclusions by staff that found the project would not pose any significant environmental or health risks.

The decision Tuesday moves the permitting process for the project back to Chippewa County. The project will need a conditional use permit from the county to be constructed at its proposed site in Asbury, which is zoned for agricultural use. Asbury is located about six miles north of Granite Falls on County Road 5 in Chippewa County.

Duininck Inc. is proposing to eventually construct four tanks, each capable of holding 3,971,000 gallons of asphalt cement. The tanks would be 45 feet tall and 130 feet in diameter.

The site is located along a sidetrack of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. The asphalt cement would arrive by train. It would be transferred from the tanks to trucks during the road construction season, April through November. As many as 40 trucks a day could take cement asphalt from the tanks, with an average projected traffic count of 10 trucks per day, according to information presented to the MPCA citizens board.

The company revised its plan for the project to move the site about 200 feet farther east of three homes located at Asbury. That would put the tanks just over 1,200 to 1,500 feet from the three homes closest to the site. There are eight other storage facilities of this type in Minnesota. This would be the first to include equipment to capture emissions, according to MPCA project manager Karen Kromar.

Asbury resident Jeff Muhl told MPCA board members that he is concerned about transient air emissions from trucks hauling the hot asphalt. He said those potential emissions were not considered in the air modeling performed for the project.

His neighbor, David Haroldson, told board members that odors and the cumulative effect of emissions concern him. He also voiced his concerns about how the project would affect property values.

Dr. Greg Pratt told the MPCA citizens board members that modeling showed that emissions of hydrogen sulfide would remain under the state standards. Air emission equipment to be installed at the site would capture 99 percent of the emissions associated with the transfer of the material to the tanks and trucks.

The modeling indicated that levels of hydrogen sulfide would no exceed a level of 7.1 parts per billion, or below the human detection level of 8 parts per billion. In contrast, Pratt said the "background'' emissions of hydrogen sulfide in the area due to agricultural activities occasionally reach 17 and 18 parts per billion.

He said the modeling showed that the health risk due to the emissions would remain under the state level for concern.

Board members voiced concerns about how the project would impact property values and the view for nearby residents, but said those were issues for the zoning process.

Board member Dennis Jensen of Duluth cast the lone no vote on the board. He expressed concerns about the transient emissions from trucking operations and noted that the air emission modeling did not take them into account.

Tom Cherveny

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

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