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County explores Nine Mile dust suppression

The Carbon County Commission conducted a special meeting to discuss ongoing issues with dust suppression and road conditions in Ninre Mile Canyon on Tuesday.

Sun Advocate community editor

The Carbon County Commission conducted a special meeting to discuss ongoing issues with dust suppression and road conditions in Nine Mile Canyon on Tuesday.

The Nov. 18 meeting's main focal point was a presentation by representatives from the Bill Barrett Corporation. The company has considerable drilling interests in the canyon.

Starting the meeting. Carbon Commissioner Bill Krompel detailed a trip he had taken through Nine Mile and reported seeing significant improvements in the road.

Krompel indicated that current suppression was good. He said there was no dust at the time of his trip where the suppressant had been applied.

A report completed by Brian Barton and Garrett McMullin of Jones and DeMille explained that four one-mile sections of road that were chosen from Harmon Canyon to Cottonwood Ridge to evaluate different types of dust suppression products.

The capabilities of the four different suppression methods included:

•Fugitive dust sampling and gravimetric filtration devices.

•Quantitative observations of density and straight edge smoothness.

•Professional observations of opacity and maintenance.

The project began 1,000 feet south of the Hunter Panel.Some 1,500 feet of separation between the project and panel were provided to prevent packing of the soil by over-tracking.

Additionally, the suppression products were only applied to native soils.

The test areas and products were tested because conventional applications of magnesium chloride have been deemed possibly damaging to native rock art, pointed out Barton and DeMille.

Magnesium chloride can also be slippery, denying traction the motor vehicles that travel along the canyon roads.

According to Commissioner Mike Milovich, the county will most likely use lignosulfate on the road in the particular area because of its cost, performance and continued maintenance.

"Our goal is to use the safest product available while protecting the native art in the area," pointed out Milovich. "However, if we get farther down the road and find that a different product is more cost effective than the lignosulfate, then we will change products."

The road composition changes as a vehicle moves through the canyon so the same dust suppressant may not work on the entire area, continued Milovich. The commissioner explained that, while everyone would like to see the road paved, the development was not something that was going to happen during his lifetime due to permit and logistical issues - not to mention cost.

Along with dust suppression, the group discussed the damaging affect flash flooding can have in the canyon and on dust suppression materials that have been applied.

Jones and DeMille recommended that the county should:

•Properly ditch and crown the road which will dramatically increase the longevity of the dust suppressants.

•Maintain and improve the roadway drainage to help protect their investment in the road.

•Raise the roadway in incised areas to prevent run-on.

•Make decisions on suppressant depending on the location the chemical will be used.

•Develop a flexible plan and use all tested materials that are viable for controlling dust.

•Optimize use of a particular suppressant by examining soil conditions, roadway utilization and operating cost.

•Note that areas treated with sub-grade using pulverized imported granular improved surface performance.

•Note that suppressants with tallow perform better in locations where drainage exists.

•Maintain treatment frequencies based on traffic fluctuations, storm events and other factors.

Barton and McMullin also provided a detailed list of the combinations of suppressants that worked best in all four of the test areas studied in Nine Mile Canyon.

Some people in attendance at the special county commission meeting, including Steve Tanner, felt that the report did not address the real problems with the road, but only applied a Bandaid.

"This doesn't offer us a permanent solution to the problems in the canyon," said Tanner.

Commissioner Johnny Jones stated that it was his understanding that the meeting was called to find a solution to the dust control problem only. However, Tanner insisted that improvement and maintenance of existing roads and industrial traffic needed to be further addressed.

"Why wasn't the the testing done in an area with more traffic," asked Tanner?

"We had to start somewhere," replied Commissioner Bill Krompel.

The commissioners approved the study and made plans to discuss the findings further at the county government's regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 19.

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