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Man camp earns initial approval to move into Coal Country

BEULAH, N.D. -- A man camp between Hazen and Beulah to house workers building a $500 million urea fertilizer plant in the area has preliminary approval.

BEULAH, N.D. -- A man camp between Hazen and Beulah to house workers building a $500 million urea fertilizer plant in the area has preliminary approval.

A plan by Civeo Corp. to move unused oil patch units from Dickinson into Coal Country was recommended by the Mercer County Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday night, but the final say-so comes from the county commission, which will take up the matter Jan. 6.

Planning official Wes Klein said the zoners’ primary concern is the possibility of dangerous caverns from old underground coal mines underneath the site. He said the zoners want Civeo to conduct boring at a spacing and density rate recommended by the Public Service Commission, which has poured millions of dollars’ worth of reclamation into filling caverns in that area.

The man camp location is northeast of an agronomy building where no caverns were found, but, in the interest of safety for the workers and possible liability to the county, Klein said engineering assurance is critical.

Another issue is State Highway 200 traffic safety. Klein said the county will push for busing the workers to and from the camp and ask the State Department of Transportation to slow the speed limit at the man camp access, which will be north of County 19 and leads past the old mine hills and the Beulah transfer station.

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Klein said he was initially skeptical, but said Civeo is on board with the county’s ordinances and plans to expand a $10 million performance bond to cover the Mercer County camp. About a dozen people attended, less in opposition than to express concerns about traffic and safety.

“The public brought good ideas,” Klein said.

Civeo regional manager Fred Allison said the company plans to start with 100 beds in 50 units that have kitchen facilities and expand to 200 beds, if the need develops. He expects the camp will be used because it’s close to the urea project and there’s a lack of other housing.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative is building the plant at its Dakota Gasification synfuel plant, where lignite coal is processed into natural gas and a dozen byproducts. The urea construction project is underway and is expected to peak at 750 workers next year.

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