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About 30 residents sat in the chilly bay of the Westside Volunteer Fire Department in Prestonville on Wednesday, Nov. 19, to ask questions about a proposed liquid-asphalt storage facility.
Louisville Paving Company of Louisville, Ky., has petitioned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to build a terminal on the Kentucky River, where barges would come to fill the storage tanks, planned for a 5-acre site just south of the Prestonville city limits.
Residents at the meeting were primarily concerned about health and safety issues that might come with the facility, which is to include two tanks holding 2 million to 2.5 million gallons of liquid asphalt each.
Paving company President William Daugherty assured the crowd that the facility would not create any odor. He said gas stations in the community give off more volatile vapors than liquid asphalt, which basically is a by-product of the petroleum refining process. Daugherty said the facility would only keep the asphalt heated to a liquid state for transportation, around 275-300 degrees Fahrenheit. He said the asphalt would have to reach 600 degrees to create a fire hazard.
He also said a 10-foot-high berm around the facility would contain any leaks, and said if any spilled into the river, it would merely gel and sink to the bottom and be easily collected.
Debbie Couch tried to discuss health issues, quoting from research that she’d found that discussed liver or kidney damage caused by petroleum products.
Appearing agitated, Lee Anne Devine, an official from the Louisville district office of the Corps., cut Couch off.
“We are not here to be accusing him [Daugherty],” Devine said “We are just here to gather information. We are not going to be brow-beating him.”
Devine said the meeting, arranged by her office, was merely to find out what concerns residents had with the project and address those concerns in its final decision.
“We have not made a decision on this,” she said.
She added that any questions about the effects the facility might have should be referred to the state Divisions of Water and Air Quality.
Devine said her office forwarded Louisville Paving Company’s permit application to those agencies, and the U.S. Coast Guard, which is responsible for maintaining navigable waterways. Because she had not received responses from any of the agencies, she said air- and water-quality likely weren’t issues.
But, she said, “if he [Daugherty[ needs a state permit for air quality, we’ll make sure he gets one,” she said.
Devine told the audience that the Corps will accept letters of concern from residents through Dec. 3. Anyone with concerns should send a letter to her at: U.S. Army Engineer District, Louisville Corps of Engineers, P.O. Box 59, Louisville, KY 40201-0059.