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Judge Wieners to hear MPCA challenge December 2 in Olmsted County

Fri, Oct 3rd, 2003
Posted in Features

Olmsted County Judge Joseph Wieners will hear oral arguments on a motion for a summary judgement against the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in Courtroom 6 of the Olmsted County Government Center in Rochester beginning December 2. Wieners was assigned the case after Fillmore County Judge Robert Benson recused himself.

In papers filed in Fillmore County on Tuesday, September 30, the law firm of Peters & Peters of Alexandria, Minnesota representing Southeastern Minnesotans for Environmental Protection (SEMEP) , has asked the courts for a summary judgement against the MPCA, and Heartland Energy & Recycling, LLC, who has intervened in the case. The plaintiffs (SEMEP) contend that the MPCA erred in not requiring Heartland to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement.

Heartland proposes to construct a 25 MW power generating facility in Preston which would burn scrap tires through a fluidized bed boiler system. According to papers filed in court, the plaintiffs contend that Heartland would “shred and burn 375 tons of tires each day, which would arrive in 25 trucks hauling 15 tons per truck...It plans to emit over 800 tons of hazardous air pollutants each year.”

SEMEP supported its motion for a summary judgement on seven conclusions:

•The Air Toxics Review from MPCA lacked substantial evidence. MPCA used data from Rialto, CA that did not undergo peer review and was vendor proposed. No real world data from TDF facilities was provided.

•The MPCA erred by failing to require Major Source Review. A stationary source is “major” if it is in an attainment area for the purposes of Prevention of Significant Deterioration and has the potential to emit 100 or more tons of a criteria pollutant. SEMEP contends that Preston, MN is in attainment.

•MPCA failed to adequately address the issues related to the tire bunker. Given the size of the bunker, the 375 tons of tires per day, the operation of the tire shredder and the use of trucks and a front-end loader, the EAW should have more information about the cover and the potential for runoff.

•The MPCA did not take a hard look at ash disposal. SEMEP contends that “fugitive dust”, that created in the separation of steel will create particulate dust. They further contend that Heartland should have an ash management plan approved by the Commissioner in place prior to operation.

•The Technical Support Document assumes that there will be no more than 4 pounds of mercury per year. SEMEP contends that mercury was dealt with by Heartland outside the scope of public comment. They further contend that Heartland may exceed the 4 pound per year limit and that the air permit should not allow the energy company to exceed the 4 pound per year limit.

•The MPCA did not address the environmental impact of zinc. SEMEP contends that Heartland will emit tons of zinc.

•SEMEP also contends that other issues not addressed, including changes to the project, as well as emissions from diesel generators would be dealt with under an EIS.

The plaintiffs site several exhibits supporting their argument, including one example where the state of Montana required an EIS for a proposed tire-burning plant in Trident, MT.

If Judge Wieners rules in favor of SEMEP, the MPCA would have to require an EIS before any permits could be issued to Heartland to operate.

Peters & Peters were successful in getting a summary judgement decision against the MPCA in the Reiland Farm case a few years ago. On December 22, 2000 Judge Robert Benson ruled that the MPCA erred in not requiring an EIS in the proposed Reiland Farms dairy expansion in Forestville Township.

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