Asphalt plant reps meet with citizens to discuss concerns

Asphalt plant reps meet with citizens to discuss concerns(Columbus, Ohio) A handful of representatives from The Shelly Co. met with about two dozen area residents last week to discuss concerns about the Shelly Materials asphalt plant on Westerville Road. The meeting was hosted by Citizens for Clean Air, a recently formed group of area residents, and Ohio Citizen Action, a statewide organization that aids groups such as Citizens for Clean Air. Neighbors shared their concerns about odors, noises and possible health issues. “You can shut your windows, you can turn your air conditioner on and you can still smell it,” said Bobbi Jo Hoak, spokeswoman for Citizens for Clean Air. “(You) not only smell it, you taste it.” Her husband, Bob Hoak, described the odor as a chemical-like smell. The Hoaks live in Westerville, about a mile away from the Shelly Materials plant. Larry Shively, vice president of The Shelly Co., said the odor could be a combination of factors. “We are taking steps to what we feel has been successful at other plants to (help with) these nuisances,” he said. The asphalt plant — which operates from around April through November each year — failed stack tests done in 2002. Shively said the emissions of volatile organic compounds and sulfur dioxide exceeded the limits of the plant’s permit. According to Shively, the company had underestimated emissions when applying for the plant’s current permit, which was issued in 2001. An Oct. 23, 2002 letter from the Ohio EPA to Shively stated that the facility’s air permit to install that was issued on July 14, 2001 limits emissions to 20 pounds of volatile organic compounds per hour and 40 pounds of sulfur dioxide per hour. The letter, from permits and compliance supervisor Mark E. Hartman, stated that testing done on Aug. 29, 2002 showed that 49.93 pounds of volatile organic compounds per hour and 69.82 pounds of sulfur dioxide per hour were being emitted. A Dec. 30, 2002 letter to the Ohio EPA from The Shelly Co. environmental technician Beth L. Mowrey indicated that testing done on Nov. 5, 2002 showed that the plant’s emissions of volatile organic compounds and sulfur dioxide were still in violation of the permit. Shively told the residents at the April 8 meeting that the company is committed to work on reducing emissions at the plant and has also applied for a permit modification from the Ohio EPA. “We’ve got ideas that we’re going to implement very quickly in this coming season,” he said. “This facility is our top priority.” Among the items the company representatives named were the installation of a modified burner, a vapor recovery system and a taller stack. The current stack, according to James Tharp, vice president for The Shelly Co., is about 20 feet tall. He said the higher stack would be about 65 feet tall. The EPA has been notified of the company’s plans for the stack, according to Shively, who said that all necessary permits are in place. He said the changes discussed will be in place before the plant opens around the end of the month. Those who live near the plant can help the company by reporting odors and noises, he said. “We do need information,” Shively said. “We welcome information. Being as specific as possible helps us.” After the meeting, Tharp said he felt it was the start of “very good dialogue.” Fran Harris, a member of Citizens for Clean Air, said she was encouraged that the representatives from The Shelly Co. came, but added that she thinks it’s too early to tell whether progress has been made. “(I’ll be) encouraged if Shelly pulls through on everything they said they’d be doing,” Bobbi Jo Hoak said. Hoak added that she was disappointed that no one representing the city of Westerville or Blendon Township attended the meeting. Shelly Materials at 6055 Westerville Road is not under any type of enforcement action, according to information previously provided by Ohio EPA spokesman Jim Leach. Leach had said that the Ohio EPA makes it a priority to work with a company to achieve compliance rather than take enforcement action. By LIZ PECEKThisWeek Staff Writer

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