Why no study on Heartland’s impact?
To the editor:
At the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors meeting on April 21, on the proposed Heartland grain elevator, I described the destruction of county roads by trucks weighing up to 90,000 pounds, a figure that was not disputed.
One person pointed out that these trucks have five axles and therefore the trucks are not going to cause any problems on the roads. But if a truck weighs 90,000 pounds and has five axles, then each axle bears 18,000 pounds. My 2007 Ford Taurus Sedan weighs 3,322 pounds, so let’s say 3,600 pounds. That is five of my cars for one of these grain truck axles, and I have two axles on my car so that is 10 of my car axles for one axle on these trucks.
It is clear that the current political situation provides little leverage to the people of Fairfield and Jefferson County, but with coordinated activism this plant can be stopped. I recommend that we set up immediate legal challenges on all levels:
1. Homeowners in a 2-mile radius of the proposed grain elevator should get their houses appraised for their value as soon as possible to prove baseline data for the upcoming lawsuits, which are inevitable.
2. Citizens should demand an assessment from the county engineer on road conditions throughout the county, and a baseline benchmark. We need and must demand an impact assessment. The reason it did not happen is cause for serious concern. Why was there no study? We need one.
3. Ambient dust and ambient noise baseline data needs to be measured as soon as possible. The record on grain elevators is scary and we need to know the record of corporate responsibility of Heartland. For example, many citizens have seen the news item on Chapin, Iowa, in an article titled: “Chapin residents say grain facility is a bad neighbor” (Bird, L. Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Oct. 15, 2013). The company in the Chapin story is AgVantage not Heartland, but the lack of transparency is very apparent and alarming here in Jefferson County. The lung problems from dust require serious due diligence and the noise could be egregious. We must contact the Environmental Protection Agency right away.
4. The amount of grain in the grain elevators is huge so what are the reasons for this? It makes sense that the grain can be the raw material for an ethanol plant and/or a huge feedlot. Both demand grain and an ethanol plant also requires a huge amount of water. Where will that be coming from?
Heartland has not been transparent with the citizens and has used the lack of zoning in Jefferson County to its advantage. We must show this company that it is in its best interest to go somewhere else. We must contact the EPA, we need committed lawyers and we must follow the money trail. This won’t be easy because we will have to look at all levels of government and all levels of the business plan. We need facts; otherwise our worst fears may manifest.
– David Goodman, Fairfield