Belfield puts natural gas facility on holdBELFIELD — A proposed $10 million natural gas loading facility brought up quite a few questions during a Zoning Board meeting Monday night, so members decided it was a decision best be left to the public.
By: Klark Byrd, The Dickinson Press
BELFIELD — A proposed $10 million natural gas loading facility brought up quite a few questions during a Zoning Board meeting Monday night, so members decided it was a decision best be left to the public.
Representatives from Bear Tracker Energy LLC met with board members to discuss rezoning and a conditional use permit.
The project was proposed on 25 acres directly east of Highway 85, just south of the railroad overpass, which is less than a mile outside city limits.
Board members all said, “I am not against it,” but every one had a concern that the public should be more involved.
A mixture of propane, butane and various other gases would hauled in by trucks and stored in tanks before being loaded on to rail cars to be transported to more lucrative markets.
Chip Duval, Bear Tracker vice president of marketing, said the facility could be linked up with pipelines from nearby producers and incorporate a plant that separates the liquid gases into their specific products, which is known as a fractionator.
The company has built multiple railroad loading stations and fractionators in other states, Duval said.
The proposed project would load up to five cars each day initially, which would be the equivalent of 12 truckloads.
“The goal is to keep trucks off the road,” Duval said during the meeting.
Issues were raised that the products were volatile, explosive and that it might be too close to town.
Board member Ken Solberg has a history dealing with natural gas and he said it can be difficult to understand safety issues.
“For one of us that has been around the industry, sure it is one thing, but to sell it to the public that it is safe and sure, then you would be good to go,” he said.
Bear Tracker President Dave Keanini said that facilities would be safe, but he understands there may be some concerns.
“I understand the concern of having it this close to the city, but we have had others within city limits,” he said. “While incidents are possible, we have never had any issues at our facilities.”
If the project was to include the fractionator and extra storage, there would be over 1 million gallons of natural gas at the facility, Solberg said during the meeting.
Board member Kevin Hushka was concerned it a safety hazard.
“Man alive, that is a lot of gas close to town,” he said, adding that he was concerned that the gas was not odorized.
Other concerns were brought up that the railcars might block one of the county roads, or Main Street, during the shuffle needed to load different cars.
The group decided that a public meeting should be held to clear up any confusion.
“There might be questions we haven’t even thought of yet, and they might be good ones,” board president Harold Kubischta said.
Board member Peggy O’Brien agreed.
“Because of its magnitude, I think we need to have the public more involved, because their lives will definitely be impacted,” she said.
A date for the public hearing was not scheduled, but Bear Tracker representatives said it would be soon.
“We appreciate the feedback we already got and look forward to moving ahead on the project,” Keanini said after the meeting.