BY: DAVID SHEPHERD, NEWS DIRECTOR / PHOTO: NRDC
DALE -- A potential setback for Riverview Energy as the Office of Environmental Adjudication rules against them in a hearing brought by two local groups.
Citizens For Quality of Life and Valley Watch oppose the company’s plan to build a coal-to-diesel plant in Dale. The hearing was in regards to the groups’ public information requests on documents pertaining to the construction and operation of the plant.
The OEA ruled IDEM failed to comply with laws requiring the disclosure of public records when it failed to provide requested documents until after the hearing on a permit was held.
"[Not providing the documents] makes me suspicious," says Mary Hess, president of Citizens for Quality of Life. She tells news director David Shepherd, "We should have had that information because of our comments. We should have the right to make comments on all of the emissions, and all of the scientific information that they have themselves."
Randy Val is a retired chemical engineer and has worked with one of the chemicals the plant will be using, Hydrogen Sulfide. "We have experience with plants that use Hydrogen Sulfide," he tells WITZ Radio News. "It's a naturally-occurring product for oil and gas fields in some areas."
Val, who is a member of the group opposing the plant continues, "A number of people in the oil business have been killed by Hydrogen Sulfide. It's a deadly poison. It was actually used as a chemical weapon in World War I. This plant will produce it as an intermediate product. That is very dangerous, especially to be located in the town of Dale."
IDEM has stated the plant's emissions will be within EPA's environmental standards. Last year, the governor told our David Shepherd he trusts IDEM and the regulatory process.
It’s not clear how the recent ruling will impact the overall plans to build the coal-to-diesel plant. It’s believed, however, IDEM may be ordered to reconsider the permit that would allow the project to go forward.