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Spangler's letter to The Editor,

Fri, Oct 18th, 2002
Posted in Letter to the Editor

As business and property owners in Preston we are gravely concerned about the proposed Heartland Energy and Recycling project in Preston. The proposal raises substantial concerns regarding possible adverse environmental impacts on the area. Impacts include the possible deterioration of sensitive fish, plant, and water resources, human health, agriculture, and tourism/recreational potentials.

There are highly significant plant and fish resources in both the Watson Creek drainage, which will be receiving surficial runoff from the Heartland plant, and the Root River, which will receive the process water from the plant via the Preston wastewater treatment facility. What will be the composition of the surficial runoff from the Heartland plant? Apparently, the City of Preston has agreed to accept Heartland's wastewater, yet we have heard no evidence to authenticate that the city has evaluated the possible outcome of accepting this additional wastewater burden. Currently, what percentage of the treatment facility's capacity is dedicated to processing existing wastewater from the city sewers? What proportion of the total daily loading of the treatment facility will be represented by anticipated wastewater load from the proposed plant? What will be the impact on the Root River if an additional load of untreated wastewater is released into the river when the treatment facility can't handle the demand? How frequently will the demand exceed the facility's capacity? Answers to these questions are critical before the city issues a building/construction permit to Mr. Maust.

Mr. Maust's application to the MPCA indicates that there is no storm water pollution prevention plan currently in existence for the plant. It is not clear that the "Best Management Practices" envisioned by the proposer will take into consideration the vulnerability of the Karst geology to rapid percolation through fractured limestone. The application does not specify what Heartland would do to prevent contamination of the St. Peter-Prairie du Chien-Jordan aquifer. The City of Preston water supply relies upon extraction from this aquifer for its domestic water source. A clear plan for prevention of surface contamination is absolutely critical to ensure the health and safety of the community. The plant will be drawing an estimated 44,000 gpd of water from this aquifer. What impact will this have on our supply of fresh water?

Other unanswered questions deal with Heartland's stack emissions. What proportion of the expected 800+ tons of noxious emissions per year will fall out on the Root River watershed? What will be the quantity of deposited contaminants? What is the forecast for the surface deposition footprint of stack emissions? What will be the effects of the combined atmospheric loading of the Pro-corn plant and the proposed plant? What is the composition of the particulate matter that escapes capture by the combustor scrubbers?

Without critically analyzing all of the above factors (plus many others not mentioned) it can't be assumed that the Heartland plant will not adversely affect our natural environment and the citizens of Fillmore County.

We are new residents of Preston, but we have been regular visitors to Fillmore County since 1978 when we moved to Minnesota from Canada. We were drawn to the area by attractions such as excellent trout fishing, Forestville State Park with its attendant historic Meighan Store site, camping, hiking, Mystery Cave, the pastoral Amish community, and the Root River Bicycle Trail. The Karst geology with its sinkholes and limestone caves and bluffs makes the area a special exception as the only unglaciated region of our state. Heartland's proposed site is at the physical gateway to the bluff country of the scenic Root River Valley. The plant will lie in stark contrast to the natural beauty and historical use of the valley--at what cost to the developing tourism and recreational industries! We ask that the Preston City Council act on behalf of the citizens of Preston and request the MPCA to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement on this project.

Kay Spangler

George Spangler

Preston, MN

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