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Prestonville asphalt terminal permit issued

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Citizens meet with Riverkeepers on concerns about facility’s location

By Dave Taylor

The News-Democrat

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville Division has approved an application filed by Louisville Paving Company Inc. for a permit to build and operate a liquid-asphalt storage terminal on the Kentucky River near Prestonville.

Corps public affairs representative Carol Labashosky said Friday the permit was issued on March 31.

Letters “went out late” to property owners who live adjacent to the site, 0.7 miles south of the confluence of the Kentucky and Ohio rivers, according to Labashosky. The application had been filed with the Corps last year.

Labashosky said information about the permit would be posted on the Corps’ Web site in the near future. “We do a large volume of permits so it takes a little while to get them posted.”

“Yes, we have all permits in hand to begin construction of the river terminal facility,” Bill Dougherty, president of Louisville Paving Co. Inc., said Monday. Construction could begin soon, he added.

“What we now need is a little bit of dry weather to get started. The completion date is approximately December 1, 2009.”

Founded in 1949, Louisville Paving Co. provides contracting services in the areas of site construction, asphalt paving and athletic surfaces. Subsidiaries offer trucking services through Material Transfer Co., road construction through Commercial Pavers, Inc., and general construction through Pace Contracting, LLC., according to the company’s Web site, www.loupaving.com. Louisville Paving Co. owns and operates three asphalt plants in the Louisville metropolitan area.

A small number of local citizens met Wednesday, April 29, to discuss concerns over the proposed facility, which is planned for a site south of the Prestonville city limits.

Local citizens are concerned about the environmental impact such a facility may have on nearby residents, as well as marine life in the two rivers, according to Evelyn Welch who chaired last week’s meeting.

Welch said local residents attempted to raise environmental and health-related questions at a public hearing last November, but were cut short by a Corps representative, who said questions relative to those issues should be referred to the state Divisions of Water and Air Quality.

“Here in Carroll County, the rivers are so important to our tourism industry,” Welch said. “Those rivers belong to all of the people. They don’t belong to the property owners along the river. A lot of people don’t realize that.”

Last October, The News-Democrat reported that a terminal with two storage tanks would be built, each holding between 2 million and 2.5 million gallons of liquid asphalt. Barges would deliver the liquid asphalt to the facility about twice a year. The liquid asphalt would be pumped into the storage tanks via an underground pipe. A 10-foot berm would be built to surround the storage tanks

Dougherty said at that time that the facility would be idle during part of the year. From April to November — the months during which most projects requiring asphalt are under way — the liquid asphalt would be heated to about 275 degrees Fahrenheit so that it could be pumped into trucks and delivered to various mixing plants. The rest of the year the substance would be cooled. When cooled, the substance is solid and odorless, he said.

Special conditions made by the Corps in the permit document stipulate that “barge unloading shall not occur more than three times per year, and shall be restricted to Monday through Friday to limit impacts to recreational boating.” No more than one barge is to be moored at the terminal at any given time, according to the permit.

Among the concerns expressed during the citizens’ meeting last week is transportation of the liquid asphalt and the impact of traffic on local roads. Guy Pike and John Welch each expressed concern over the aging bridge between Carrollton and Prestonville, and the effect of additional traffic at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 42 and Ky. Hwy. 55 in Prestonville.

“What about that old bridge? That won’t be able to handle all that traffic,” Pike said. “Is the asphalt company going to pay for the upkeep of the roads?”

The terminal would see about two or three trucks a day, and the trucks will access the terminal from Interstate 71 using State Hwy. 55, Dougherty told The News-Democrat last fall. The facility, he said, will not increase truck traffic through town. Site plans show a roadway on the south end of the storage facility property for access to the terminal from State Hwy. 55.

Pat Banks, of Kentucky Riverkeepers, an independent environmental group based in Richmond, attended last week’s meeting at the request of Evelyn Welch. “I want to know if it has been addressed what happens at the storage terminal when the river goes into flood stage,” Banks said. She also expressed concern about the environmental impact on marine life at the confluence of the two rivers.

Kentucky Riverkeepers’ mission is to serve as educator and citizen-based advocate for the responsible stewardship of the Kentucky River watershed and its resources for the present and future generations, Banks said.

According to a brochure about the organization, The Kentucky Riverkeepers is sponsored by Eastern Kentucky University’s Center for Appalachian Studies. It is an independent non-profit corporation that is part of the Waterkeeper ALLIANCE, a coalition of more than 180 “keepers” around the world. It is one of the fastest growing environmental groups over the past decade and is led by its president, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Banks said an attorney for Kentucky Riverkeepers plans to review the Corps permit and the status of permit applications by Louisville Paving Co. with the state Divisions of Water and Air Quality. “So much hinges on getting a copy of the (Corps) permit so that we know what to do next,” Banks said.

“We need to look at other similar facilities to see how they operate,” Evelyn Welch said. “I hope this situation will bring a new awareness of how badly we need zoning in the county. Unlimited economic development is not necessary, especially here where we’re already saturated with industry. What benefit is this to Carroll County? We were told that this facility would create two or three new jobs is all. Will these be new hires or will they be people who already work for Louisville Paving?”

Guy Pike questioned what impact the facility, when functional, would have on local air quality. “In the river bottom the air gets stagnant sooner than in higher elevations,” he said. “How are they going to vent the gases from it?”

Wording in the permit states that in the event of odors, “upon notification by the Corps of Engineers, the permittee shall immediately make use of odor abatement chemicals in the storage tanks, as deemed necessary to control odors that may emanate from the tanks.”

Louisville Paving is required by the Corps to install sight screening around the storage tanks, according to the permit. “Atop the berm surrounding the storage tanks, the permittee shall plant two rows of trees (spruce and/or pine) on 11-foot centers,” the permit states. “The two rows shall be six feet apart with the trees in one row being offset from the other.”

The Louisville District of the Corps has the right to inspect the terminal “at any time necessary” to deem that it is operating within the terms and conditions of the permit, according to the document. The Corps may “reevaulate its decision on the permit if Louisville Paving Co. fails to comply with terms and conditions of the permit, if any information provided on the application proves to be false or inaccurate, or if significant new information surfaces which this office did not consider in reaching the original public interest decision.”