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Utility’s fly ash plan sparks town concerns PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 22 July 2015 19:03

We Energies’ relocation of buried waste material to Hwy. 32 site to be discussed at special meeting July 27

We Energies’ plan to move buried coal fly ash from one Town of Grafton location to another has sparked concern among local officials.

In response, the Town Board will hold a special meeting Monday, July 27, to discuss the utility’s request for town approval of the project.

“We just learned about this a few weeks ago,” Town Chairman Lester Bartel said. “It sounds like a positive project, but we don’t know all the details. There needs to be more discussion.”

In a report to the board on July 8, Town Engineer Kevin Kimmes said he received a report from We Energies on the need to relocate fly ash from a six-acre site it owns at the end of Stonecroft Drive to the utility’s Highway 32 landfill property.

The move, the utility said, is required because the Environmental Protection Agency has adopted stricter regulations on the handling of the ash, which is a byproduct of coal burning.

Kimmes said the Stonecroft Drive property was used in the 1960s as one of several local landfill sites for fly ash from the Port Washington power plant, which for decades burned coal before being converted to natural gas.

We Energies’ remediation plans call for removing ash from 5.5 acres and restoring the property to its condition before being used as a landfill. Because EPA rule changes will go into effect Oct. 17, the utility wants to begin work in July and complete the ash relocation in September, Kimmes told the board.

The project calls for removing 50,000 cubic yards, or 3,500 truckloads, of fly ash. Trucks would be covered to contain the material as it is transported to the Highway 32 landfill, using only county roads.

Bartel said that although the project plan “looks good,” the board needs to review the proposal further before giving its approval.

 In addition to a local permit spelling out a time frame and restrictions for removing and transporting fly ash, the town needs assurances that it will be reimbursed for staff time and inspection costs and that Stonecroft Drive will be rebuilt after the work is completed, he said.

“There are also some neighborhood concerns” for families living near the property, Bartel said.

Other board members has also expressed  caution in approving the project. Supr. Tom Grabow said adding fly ash to the Highway 32 landfill could result in environmental problems from nearby Ulao Creek, which he said is already being monitored for high contamination levels.

Bartel said he and other officials were caught off guard by We Energies’ initial approach in seeking permit approval early this month.

“They just came in and told us to sign some papers because they had to do this,”  he said. “I told them it’s in the best interest of the town that we look at it more closely.”

Monday’s meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall, 1230 11th Ave.

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