Proposed Arkansas Ethanol Facility Causing a Stir

– by Marielle Mohs, March 2, 2016, KTHV


Photo: KTHV

A town hall meeting got pretty heated on Wednesday night in Maumelle.

Many angry citizens voiced their concerns about a proposed ethanol storage facility that would store 4.2 million gallons of ethanol and cost about $12 million. It would take about nine months to complete.

“When the high school and middle school went into the industrial park, I never thought it was a great idea to have them that close to a rail spur,” said Preston Lewis, Maumelle Alderman, who’s against the proposed project.

Green Plains, along with Delek, drew out the plans for a proposed ethanol distribution facility.

“We only need to look down the road at Mayflower at what happened there a few years ago,” said Lewis.

Wednesday’s town hall meeting posed a lot of “what if” questions with people concerned about a disaster plan, if a fire happened at the site.

“Very hazardous material with a reputation for causing a lot of damage and explosions. I think you have a challenge, especially with the school being within such
close proximity,” said Lewis.

One of the concerns the community has about this proposed plant, is that it’s so close to Maumelle High School, approximately 1,400 feet away.

“I don’t want anything bad to come in, but I do think that people should have the decency to listen to all the facts, and then if they don’t want it to come in, we can always vote no,” said Jess Holt, Maumelle Alderman in support of the project.

Holt walked out of the meeting Wednesday after it got out of hand. Many people got angry about added traffic along Maumelle Boulevard.

Green Plains says there will be one truck loading and unloading an hour, which is 24 trucks a day.

“We can dictate that they stay away. We will not be loading during the congestion hours, in the morning and in the evening,” said Steve Bleyl, Green Plains Executive VP.

Although this project only brings temporary construction jobs and few trucking full-time jobs, Bleyl argues the jobs are good money.

“These are D.O.T. hazmat jobs, so these are good trucking jobs,” said Bleyl.

Bleyl also added that this project will bring improvements to the rail line during the building process.

“Right now it’s not a good quality line and for what’s coming in on the rail, it has to be a class one rail grade,” said Bleyl.

In regards to unpredictable disasters on site…“If anything were to happen, my home would be affected, but I don’t live in that kind of fear,” said Holt.

Wednesday was just a presentation and no decisions have been made yet. Though there would be no sales tax for Maumelle residents, there would be an additional property tax.

Maumelle Mayor Mike Watson says the companies have not filed an application with the planning commission.

They have to do so by Thursday, in order to get on the March agenda.

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