State environmental regulators have approved underground fuel tanks and a lagoon system to treat sewage at a scheduled Love’s truck stop off Interstate 90 near Ramsay.
“Based on its review, DEQ has determined that the project will not cause significant adverse effects on the human or physical environment and no further analysis is necessary,” the quality department of the Department said on Tuesday. Montana environment.
It was accompanying a final environmental assessment of Love’s Travel Stops plans to build a large truck stop complex next to Ramsay, a small community of around 40 homes that has been battling the project since Love’s announced its plans in January 2017.
Residents say the truck stop 7 miles west of Butte will bring traffic, noise, pollution, transients and crime to their community, and an opposition leader said on Wednesday they would continue. to fight the project before county officials and before the courts.
“We’re going to go as far as we can to prevent it,” Ramsay resident Jim Ayres said. “We will exhaust all legal remedies. “
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But the DEQ assessment was one more hurdle Love’s cleared – a major hurdle – and a statement released by the Oklahoma City company on Wednesday indicated its plans were moving forward.
“Love’s is committed to protecting the environment in which we operate – and where our employees live and raise their families,” the statement read. “We are continuing our due diligence at the Ramsay site so that we can serve customers in the region. “
Love’s has 510 branches in 41 states, including Missoula and Hardin. Some are just convenience stores that also sell gasoline, others are full-fledged truck stops. Ramsay’s would include a store, Arby’s restaurant, casino, tire store, and parking for at least 110 tractor-trailers.
The DEQ assessment means permits for the underground tanks will soon be issued, agency spokesman Kevin Stone said and the plans and specifications are under final technical review. This process should be completed within 30 days, he said.
The Montana Department of Transportation was awaiting DEQ approval of the lagoon sewer plan before issuing an approach permit for the interstate ramp widening work on the project. An agency official was checking his status on Wednesday.
Butte-Silver Bow officials must issue a site permit for the project to proceed, and this too was pending DEQ approval. If and when it is issued, Ramsay residents plan to appeal to the county zoning board over allegations that it violates Ramsay’s zoning provisions. Any decision taken by the council may be appealed against to the district court.
An email was sent to county planning officials on Wednesday asking for the status of the locate permit.
Meanwhile, District Court Judge Robert Whelan has yet to decide whether Love’s will get a liquor license for a casino that is part of the planned complex. Ramsay residents are trying to overturn a decision by a state agency that granted the license and it has been a year since Whelan presented oral arguments in the case.
The DEQ’s final analysis was expected as it released a draft assessment in September drawing many of the same conclusions. A final assessment was put on hold so the agency could take public comments into account, and many objected to the lagoon system.
Lagoons are often used to capture and stabilize wastewater, store it during the winter months, and apply it for agricultural purposes during the warmer months. They are common in the United States, but come with management requirements in Montana.
According to the DEQ assessment:
• No impact would be made on water quality because “no water discharge into groundwater or surface water is proposed”. potential for any harm.
• The lagoon irrigation system meets the standards and the vegetation would be able to absorb the sewage and applied nutrients.
• Before use, the lagoons must undergo a leak test. Drilling at their planned location showed groundwater at depths greater than 40 feet, significantly deeper than the bottom of the lagoons. In the event of an unforeseen leak, the depth would provide additional treatment to the effluent before reaching the groundwater.
• No significant impact on air quality is expected with the lagoon system. Wind monitors would stop irrigation spraying if winds exceed 20 mph. The potential for petroleum vapors from underground fuel tanks would be mitigated by natural air currents, among others.
• The agency said it does not expect significant impacts on odors. The lagoons would smell an odor sometimes in the spring and fall, but they would be about 1,400 feet east of Ramsay and the prevailing wind direction would be away from town.
• No significant noise is expected from the operation of the truck stop. No lighting problem is being examined by the DEQ.
Residents of Ramsay have raised many concerns about the reservoirs and the lagoon system and Ayres said the DEQ appeared to be laying them off regardless of the city.
“To me, it seems unfair for someone else to decide on the significant impact for a residential area,” he said. “It’s always been just a residential area.”
The DEQ addressed emissions from storage tanks, Ayres said, “But what about all the trucks that use the product coming out of the storage tanks? It’s not something they have had to deal with.
The analysis mentioned the guarantees that Love’s plans with the tanks, Ayres said, but “You don’t have to look very far to see what can happen when there is human error.”
He was referring to a recent overflow of 485 gallon diesel from underground fuel tanks at a municipal pump at 3700 Harrison Ave. at Butte which sent an unknown quantity of diesel into Blacktail Creek. Town Pump said this happened when an employee of a trucking company overfilled the tank.
Ayres said the town and its school depend on an aquifer for water and that there is no safeguard if it is contaminated by reservoirs or lagoons. He also said he was recently in Arizona and could smell the scents of a lagoon system much more distant than Ramsay would be compared to the one offered here.
Ayres said residents believe they have an excellent record to defend on zoning issues, and if a county locator permit is issued, they have hired a lawyer and will argue their case before the zoning board.