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Asphalt storage proposal on its way to the Chippewa County Board

MONTEVIDEO -- The Chippewa County Board of Commissioners will be taking up a recommendation one week from today on whether or not to issue a permit to Duininck Bros. Inc., of Prinsburg, to construct a large asphalt storage facility in the county.

The county's Planning Commission recommended on a 6-1 vote Wednesday that a permit be issued, according to Scott Williams, director of the county land resource and management office.

The vote came after about 1½ hours of testimony from neighbors opposed to the project, and another hour of deliberations by the members of Planning Commission.

The lone no vote was cast by a board member who wanted to see hours of operations restricted at the site, Williams said.

Duininck Inc. is seeking the permit to erect an asphalt storage facility on a side track of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway at the small hamlet of Asbury, located about six miles north of Granite Falls on County Road 5.

The company has indicated it hopes to eventually erect 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 permit being recommended would allow for the construction of one tank and one loading rack to serve it. The company would need to return for a permit if it were to eventually add more tanks at the site, according to Williams.

The county's action on the permit comes after the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency citizens board voted June 22 not to require an environmental impact statement for the project. The board accepted the staff environmental assessment worksheet for the project.

An environmental impact statement is an in-depth analysis of a project, while an environmental assessment worksheet is typically in the format of a questionnaire used as a screening tool to determine whether more analysis is warranted.

The main issues facing the MPCA were possible odor and vapor emissions from the site. There are eight other asphalt storage facilities of this type in Minnesota, but this will be the first to include equipment to capture the emissions.

Neighbors of the proposed project voiced concerns about the facility's use of groundwater and the potential for interference with their domestic and farm wells. They also voiced concerns about the truck traffic, noise and dust that could be generated.

The Planning Commission recommended a set of conditions to the permit that are aimed at addressing those concerns, according to Williams.

Tom Cherveny

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

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