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Man camp for fertilizer plant workers OK’d, but underground mine tunnels a concern

STANTON, N.D. -- The owner of empty oil patch man camp units has permission to bring them to a location between Hazen and Beulah to house workers building a urea fertilizer plant at a nearby energy complex.

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Civeo Corp. regional manager Fred Allison, right, says the corporation will put safety first when it comes to making sure the location for a man camp between Hazen and Beulah is not above old underground mine tunnels. At left at Wednesday's county commission meeting is Gary Emter, Mercer County's land use and tax administrator. (Lauren Donovan, Bismarck Tribune)

STANTON, N.D. - The owner of empty oil patch man camp units has permission to bring them to a location between Hazen and Beulah to house workers building a urea fertilizer plant at a nearby energy complex.

The Mercer County Commission approved a temporary use permit to Civeo Corp., at Wednesday’s meeting, where one of the main topics of concern was how extensive boring should be to ensure there are no hidden underground mine tunnels.

The area is riddled with early 20th century underground mine works in proximity to where the Public Service Commission, using federal Abandoned Mine Lands funds, has had a long program of injecting grout to stabilize the property.

As a condition of use, the commission upheld the zoning board’s recommendation that the location be bored to the PSC’s recommendation. Zoning member Dwight Berger said the abandoned mine program manager recommends 50 bore holes as deep as 120 feet.

Property owners and brothers Garner and Gaylen Sailer said maps of the old mine works show tunnels very near, but, except for one far corner, none directly below the five-acre site. The proposed location is northeast of the agronomy building along Highway 200.

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Gaylen Sailer said the family has farmed the land for generations and never had a problem there.

“We know where the holes are. If we’re going to drill (bore holes), let’s not be ridiculous,” said Gaylen Sailer, adding that four bore holes were drilled to verify the stability of the agronomy building and each cost $1,000.

Some on the commission wondered if the recommendation wasn’t going overboard.

“Let’s be reasonable and not get plum carried away," Commissioner Gary Murray.

However, the commission let the zoning recommendation stand while there was some thought that perhaps a compromise could be put in place.

Berger said the county planning board wanted no liability in the matter.

Civeo’s Fred Allison said safety is the company’s primary concern and would make its own economic decision. He said the company has had some interest in its housing units and could be up and running by early spring. He said the county will benefit from the $400 per bed tax as well as from local purchases of diesel for the units’ generators and consumables by the occupants.

 

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