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274 acres rezoned for diesel refinery: $325M facility planned for location between Dickinson, South Heart

Stark County's Planning and Zoning Board approved a request from WBI Energy Inc. to rezone approximately 274 acres from agricultural to industrial for a proposed diesel fuel refinery.

Planning and Zoning Board member and Stark County Commissioner Russ Hoff said the request still has to be approved by the county commission at its Tuesday meeting at the Stark County Courthouse, where more conditions may be added to the request.

WBI Energy Inc. was represented at the Planning and Zoning Board meeting by John Stumpf, MDU Resources Group Inc. vice president of strategic planning, who said the zoning request is the next step in building the refinery between Dickinson and South Heart.

"Basically, where we're at is that we need some property options and the applications," he said. "We'd like to proceed with industrial zoning, so we can continue on with our air quality permitting with the Department of Health. Federal (Environmental Protection Agency) is part of that as well."

The refinery that could be built by MDU and Calumet Refining LLC approximately five miles of southwest of Dickinson is expected to cost $325 million.

Stumpf was involved in public meetings held last month in both cities, where he addressed residents' concerns about the refinery that would operate 24/7 and employ about 100 workers.

"There are a number of things that still need to come together to be certain that it would be built," Stumpf said. "We still need air quality permits and water discharge permits, and all that at the end of the day to meet our capital budgeting criteria and so forth too. We would like to look promising enough to move forward, so we're making this request."

Stumpf said the location was primarily chosen because of the proximity to the railroad.

"We'll be sending about 13 cars of product a day that is not suitable to make into diesel fuel, so it will be sent to our partner in Superior, Wis." he said. "We will also be situated close to Dickinson that has some local infrastructure support for the plant."

Commissioner Jay Elkin, who is also on the Planning and Zoning Board, said he's heard from residents who are concerned about the odor from the refinery.

"I know with a refinery you have to meet certain air quality standards, but is the smell going to be similar to the Mandan refinery?" he asked.

Stumpf said the two refineries would be different.

"There is really very little similarity to the Mandan refinery, which is a full-integrated refinery that came before technology," he said. "This facility is different in design. The salt from the crude is removed by a chemical process and is not exposed to the atmosphere. It is an industrial site that is more high-efficient today and uses clean fuel to supply the furnaces. If it's designed properly, it shouldn't be controversial."