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Kevin Bonham, Forum Communications, Published December 10 2012

Mayville elevator to cut dust by installing air pollution control system

MAYVILLE, N.D. — Mayville Farmers Co-op Elevator plans to install a $550,000 air pollution control system within six months to control dust and chaff from its elevator in downtown Mayville.

The Mayville Planning and Zoning committee unanimously recommended approval Monday of a building permit for the project. Mayville City Council will consider final approval at its meeting next Monday.

The North Dakota Department of Health’s Division of Air Quality has given the cooperative until June 1 to install the equipment and to demonstrate that it is working properly, according to a letter, dated Dec. 3, from Terry O’Clair, division director.

The Health Department’s action follows a series of complaints, including pictures and videos, submitted to the state that “appear to indicate poorly operating air pollution control equipment and excessive dust and chaff being emitted” from the elevator, according to the letter.

“The department concurs that the proposed equipment, if installed and operated properly, should bring the facility into compliance with the North Dakota Air Pollution Control Rules,” O’Clair wrote.

Elevator President Richard Moen told the planning and zoning committee Monday that the elevator should be able to meet the deadline, providing the weather cooperates.

Moen noted that the building permit covers the installation of two dust bags or filters, plus piers or footings at each of the filters.

A covered dust collection system will contain the dust in an existing bin. Dust then would be transported to another location outside the city, perhaps to a landfill, a farm field or to a recycling facility, according to Moen.

“That will go a long way in reducing the complaints and in reducing any chance of non-compliance,” said Jim Semerad, manager of permitting and compliance with the Air Quality Division.

The elevator withdrew its original building permit application in June for the proposed construction of two new grain silos after a local nonprofit group, the Mayville Clean Air Campaign, threatened to file suit to stop the project.

Elevator officials said the application was withdrawn because they decided to have a more elaborate system designed and installed, which has delayed the project by about a year.

About three months after the original application withdrawal, the local campaign purchased half-page and full-page advertisements in area newspapers, including the Grand Forks Herald and The Forum, suggesting that the elevator relocate outside of the Traill County city of 1,850.

However, elevator officials said the facility will not move. Moen said the new dust-control system should address public concerns.

Mayville is not alone in dealing with grain dust issues.

“There are several hundred elevators in the state, and most of them are in towns, so we do see our share of complaints,” Semerad said. “In the vast majority of cases, we work cooperatively with the elevator managers to mediate the problem.”