Drilling for ethanol plant begins

Drilling for ethanol plant begins

About 10 a.m. Friday, drilling started at the site of a proposed ethanol plant east of Rogersville. It lasted only a few minutes, but pipe and other equipment were unloaded.

The Citizens for Groundwater Protection ”” a group of residents living near the site at U.S. 60 and Porter’s Crossing Road ”” had filed a petition for preliminary and permanent injunction in Webster County on Monday in an attempt to prevent construction of the plant, according to their attorney, William H. McDonald. Major concerns are the quantity and quality of the underground water, the economy and environment.

The appearance of the well drilling rigs Wednesday afternoon prompted McDonald to file a petition for a temporary restraining order on behalf of the groundwater protection group against Gulfstream Bioflex Energy, the company that is planning the biorefinery. The hearing has been continued to Thursday, McDonald said.

Copies of the groundwater protection group’s actions have been faxed to Doyle Childers of the Missouri Department of Revenue in Jefferson City and Attorney General Jay Nixon, McDonald stated.

Cindy Davies, director of DNR’s Southwest Missouri Regional Office, said no permit applications have been received by their office from GBE to date.

She said her office has spoken to the well drillers who gave assurances that the test holes will not be used for drinking water.

“No permit is required if the well is not being used for public consumption, but it must be reported to MoDNR once drilled,” said Davies.

“They (GBE) have indicated they will drill a state-approved well for their employees to drink.

“Once we receive permit applications, the department will work to ensure that the project is constructed and permitted in such as way to comply with all environmental laws and regulations,” Davies said.

GBE officials could not be reached for comment Friday.

There is strong community sentiment both for and against the proposed site.

In support of the plant, several people have compared the plant to a 250-acre subdivision full of houses with wells and septic tanks that would also lower the water table and pollute the groundwater.

Rogersville resident and livestock producer Duane Scott said that the plant itself would not affect him personally either way, but he can see advantages and disadvantages to the facility.

“The byproducts will produce cheap cattle feed and a market for corn as well as employment during construction and in the plant,” said Scott. “It is very possible that the groundwater can be polluted from subdivisions as much as the plant.”

Signs have gone up around the community in support of the citizens’ opposition group.

McDonald said people can mail donations to help the group to Citizens for Groundwater Protection, P.O. Box 311, Fordland, MO 65652. Any money left after the issue is resolved will be returned, he said.

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