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Front Page » March 6, 2003 » Local News » Panel reviews carbon dioxide plant plan
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Panel reviews carbon dioxide plant plan

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Staff reporter

The first came from a firm that intends to take the carbon dioxide refined from the methane/natural gas that Questar is removing from the ground at a plant southwest of Price.

Now, East Carbonics Inc. wants to build a plant where the old Banning loadout is located near Sunnyside Junction.

"What we would like to do is similar to what the other company also proposes by putting the gas into a liquid form and shipping it to customers," explained Troy Shelly, a principal of the company present at the county planning board meeting Tuesday night.

"This is a very unique place. Carbon County is one of only five places in the U.S. that has CO2 reserves like this."

East Carbonics was on the agenda to request a conditional use permit to begin preparations to build the plant at the site as soon as the old company finishes a reclamation project.

"The gas contained in the deposit is 99.3 percent pure and we will refine it to a 99.9 percent pure product that will almost all probably go to one customer," stated Shelly.

The plant will be housed in an 80-foot by 200-foot building and directly employ less than five people to begin with. While rail lines are available at the site, the shipping will probably be done by truck, with up to 18 traveling to and from the plant each day.

The company has secured the rights to a well at the site and proposed plant will utilize about 24 gallons of water per minute to refine the gas.

The operation will include a small evaporation pond to dispel the water. The sulfur by-product will be dried into cakes and shipped to a California company that uses the material in commercial fertilizer.

"One of the best advantages this project has for the area is that often, when plants like this are put in other industry follows it into the same area," said Shelly.

"We start with the liquification project then firms that produce dry ice and other products move in to utilize our products."

Shelly explained that in a similar situation in St. John, Ariz., 300 acres of greenhouses were erected, utilizing the CO2 for growth purposes.

"With only five sources like this, many industries like to locate nearby," he stated.

Questions from the board about the plant included impacts on water and sewer systems, what the building would look like, length of operating life and transportation to a from the site were some of the main topics.

Shelly and fellow principal in the business John Larson explained that the company would use a septic system for the small amount of sewage from the plant and that there would be no runoff of any kind from the plant.

Discussingthe matter of building image, Shelly and Larson indicated that the structure would be painted to "fit into the existing landscape."

The East Carbonics principals also told the county planning board members that the contract the company would be signing with the operation's largest customer would be for 20 years. But Shelly and Larson indicated that they expected the plant to operate for near double the designated amount of time or longer.

The transportation issue, ingress and egress were originally brought up by planning board chairman Richard Tatton.

But the matter was expanded in the discussion by Earl Gunderson, a county panel member and a resident of East Carbon.

"With this new truck traffic entering the highway near the junction, that intersection will become even more busy and dangerous," stated Gunderson. "We have been working for years to put in street lights at that intersection."

"We have most of the materials to do it, and the power is very close, yet we haven't been able to get it done. We would like your help in getting that finally accomplished, particularly since your company would be impacting the traffic there. If we don't do something there, I feel we will have more accidents as well as fatalities," emphasized Gunderson.

The company representatives said they would do their best to help in anyway they could.

Dave Levanger, the county's director of planning pointed out that for the present, the zoning in the area was fine but that if other industries started growing up around the plant, it might have to be changed.

"For now the mining and grazing designation will be fine, but it may have to eventually be changed to industrial," he said.

The commission recommended that the conditional use permit be submitted to the county commission for a public hearing and possible final approval.

When asked after the meeting by the Sun Advocate who the company's customer was Larsen indicated that he "could not reveal who it was yet" because not all the contracts have been signed.

"But we will be ready to release all the information soon,stated Larsen. "We are very close to a deal."

Addressing several unrelated business matters at Tuesday's meeting, the county planning board made some approvals and changes to the ballpark subdivision in Carbonville.

The county planning board members members amended the phase one stage and also gave preliminary approval for phase two.

The planning board also granted a request from developer Jeff Spainhower to amend the zoning map in the area from RR 2.5 and M&G-1 to R-1-20,000 for future development of the same subdivision north of the old canal bed.

Anther issue of importance was the concern about fire protection for mountain home developments around Scofield Reservoir.

With a number of new and large developments being developed, the response time by fire fighters could be even more critical than in the past.

At the present time, it takes the Helper City Fire Department, which is called out along with the Scofield fire department when a fire takes place, well over a half hour to arrive at the scene.

Some questions have also remained about water flow levels and what is appropriate for fighting fires in the area.

"Utah has adopted the international fire code," Levanger told the commission. "But they leave what the fire flow in water lines should be up to the local jurisdictions."

While the questions have existed for quite some time, the entire subject has been heavily debated because of some problems at various developments in the county.

A request was also made by the planning commission that one of the developments in the Scofield area get clearance on their water system from the Helper Fire Department before everything is approved.

However, the Helper Fire Department responded that it felt it did not need to be involved in the situation for approvals.

According to property owners, fire ratings in the area around the reservoir are currently at the highest level causing the owners to pay high premiums to insurance companies.

According to these owners, many pay as much for insurance on small cabins as they do on large homes they live in regularly. Emergency response time is some of the reason for that.

"One of the things we have drafted for that area is the possibility of a small fire station along with a small vehicle for fast attack on a fire be put in place," said Levanger.

"I am no expert on fires, but I have been told that if a fire in most of the structures up there can't be put out with 200 gallons of water, it won't be put out until it runs it's course," pointed out the planning and zoning director.

Mark Nielsen, the developer that was asked to get approval from Helper, requested that since the department did not feel it should get involved that the request should be lifted.

"We designed that (water) system for all proposed development up to the largest size we would build from day one to handle a proper fire flow," stated Nielsen. "In some areas, we have over 100 psi."

The planning board members decided to have the Carbon County Attorney's Office draft specific language that would solve the problem with the development.

After the decision, Levanger pointed out to the planning board members that the county should encourage people who build houses or cabins in the area to install sprinkling systems inside the structures.

The county planning and zoning officials also felt that many of the existing buildings in the area could be retrofitted for the systems as well.

"I think the planning and zoning department will be coming up with a fact sheet for people who are interested in this option," Levanger concluded.

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