The Roundup -

Yellowstone Disposal Draft EA Public Meeting Held Dec. 18

 

December 27, 2017 | View PDF

The proposed waste disposal site, currently a parcel of land owned by Yellowstone Disposal LLC. The site can be seen from a private road off of Highway 23 not far from the Yellowstone River Bridge, just a few miles from Sidney. (Photo by Jordan Hall)

More than 100 community members convened at the MonDak Heritage Center in Sidney for the scheduled public hearing for the proposed Yellowstone Disposal solid waste landfill. The purpose of the meeting was to provide information to the public about the proposal in an effort to obtain public comment on the application.

Agents from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) set and ran the meeting, supported by an engineer from Bartlett & West, the firm's engineer, Chris Kreger, representative for the applicant and other DEQ agents.

According to Mary Hendrickson, Technical Lead for the Solid Waste Program at DEQ, an application for a solid waste landfill was received by DEQ from Yellowstone Disposal LLC in 2015. After one deficiency, and finally a completed application, DEQ agents released the draft environmental assessment for the project. The assessment was a review of the potential impacts of the project on both human health and the environment. The meeting was convened to collect public comment, according to rules set forth by the state of Montana.

DEQ notified the public of the meeting and available environmental assessment via local newspapers, and postcards were sent directly to adjacent landowners. This follows procedures previously set by DEQ. Several nearby landowners expressed frustration however, that they had not been properly notified.

Yellowstone Disposal, LLC, proposes to construct a Class II solid waste facility about 4.5 miles southeast of Sidney, past the Thiel subdivision on highway 23. The company owns 2,660 acres and proposed 650 acres for licensure as a solid waste facility. The facility would include a 75-acre municipal waste facility that would collect regular household waste, and 55 acres designated as a special waste facility, which would collect oil field waste such a drill cuttings and other potential environmental hazards, such as asbestos.

The proposal includes ground water monitoring before and after construction of the facility, leachate collection systems, storm water ponds, and litter and dust control measures, in accordance with the requirements set forth in Montana law and DEQ policy.

Based on the environmental assessment, DEQ determined that there would be no adverse effects to human or environmental health the project.

Attendees had many questions for the DEQ agents and facility representative, Chris Kreger.

Many attendees had concerns about potentially contaminated dust, mercury, un-rinsed pesticide containers, medical and electronic waste, batteries, septic pumpings and more. Chris Kreger said, "We do not take any hazardous waste. I want that to be absolutely clear."

DEQ asked for respectful questions, and received a number from the crowd. Al Whitford asked about topography making it difficult to contain the waste, saying that up on the hill winds are higher, meaning that containing dust, smell and garbage would be difficult.

A representative for the Scheetz family, who own water rights, said, "That water is already spoken for. Water rights are filed for the entire watershed. Water is to run down to McGlynn dam. The Scheetz family has filed rights for the east side of the divide. Irrigation stock water, swimming, it has had fish in it."

Hendrickson explained that water rights are for a given volume. The facility is required to control storm water so they don't discharge sediment into a stream. Water must be sampled for sediment before discharging it.

Hendrickson also took the time to apologize if people were not notified. She said they used Montana Cadastral to determine the adjacent landowners.

Patti Whitford asked who would shut down the facility because of dust contamination and how long it would take to shut it down if there were an issue. Hendrickson explained that the county sanitarians would be responsible to take a picture of the contamination and then DEQ would bring the facility into compliance.

Patty Petrik asked what made them choose that particular site, and why it was placed in a condensed population and not in a less congested area.

Chris Kreger responded, "There's a whole list of siting criteria within the regulations before you can site a landfill. You need to be able to meet that list and have available land. We don't have eminent domain. We have to find a willing seller. Of the number of sites, this site met the siting criteria in the rules, it met the location criteria we were looking for, and had the largest acreage, which gives us the best buffer zone from the neighbors. If it would have failed one of those factors, it would have been eliminated."

Hendrickson agreed, saying, "To clarify, we don't choose a site. The applicant chooses the site. DEQ evaluates the site to see if it will meet rule requirements and determine impacts."

Shane Gorder, who lives on east side of the river, asked at whose expense the county and the county sanitarians were to be involved monitoring the site, asking, "At who's expense? The tax payers expense?"

Gorder continued, "We already have a Class II landfill in Richland County. We have 11,900 people and our county landfill will take us into the future. You said you sent out a compliance? I have been here 6 years and I have never been cc'd [on an email]...Where is the waste coming from? North Dakota? South Dakota? Wyoming? They say in North Dakota that one out of ten trucks is tested for radiation. Is Montana testing only one out of ten or all of them?"

Gorder's line of questioning continued, "Can we find the background of the company? Violations or success stories? I'd like to have that website...Where are the locations of all those test wells? Have all of the spring, livestock wells, house wells, been monitored?" The crowd applauded Gorder's line of questioning.

John Franklin voiced his opinion that such meetings were a forum for people to vent their frustrations, but in the end, the decision had already been made to approve the waste disposal site.

Scott Staffanson urged the DEQ officials to consider local opinion, saying, "I think you've got a lot of stuff to add from people local here who have a lot better vision of what this is going to be, rather than basing it on your averages you found in a book."

Resident Devil Bell said, "We don't need another dump in this town. We don't need North Dakota trash. I just don't think this is the right spot. It doesn't seem like we are being heard very well."

DEQ has not yet approved the facility. They will make the final decision at the end of the public comment period once they have had an opportunity to respond to substantive comments.

DEQ staff collected any written comments available at the time of the meeting. The public comment period closes at the close of business on January 20, 2018. Comments may be submitted via US Mail to DEQ-WUTMB, PO Box 200901, Helena MT 59620, or by e-mail at DEQSWProgram@mt.gov. The environmental assessment is available online at http://deq.mt.gov/public/ea/WasteMgt.

 

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