ConAgra denied first of appeals to halt Idaho fertilizer plant

30 July 2014 22:45 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The hearing officer reviewing ConAgra’s appeal of permits granted by Idaho regulators for the proposed nitrogen plant from Magnolia Nitrogen Idaho (Magnida) has denied the agricultural titan’s motion for a stay on the permit to construct, Magnida CEO Ric Sorbo said on Wednesday.

On 28 July, in Boise, an Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) hearing was conducted to review the air permit granted in April and also whether to grant a ruling permitting a stay on the permit issued for construction of the nitrogen plant.

Sorbo said the presiding officer for the DEQ hearing also reviewed Magnida’s motion to dismiss the ConAgra’s appeals but gave no ruling on that matter.

“Both sides presented their arguments but the presiding officer gave no indication on when he will rule. If he rules in Magnida’s favor, this ends ConAgra’s protest, subject to appeal,” said Sorbo.

“On ConAgra’s motion for stay, the presiding officer ruled on this, and denied the motion. Had he granted ConAgra’s motion, this could have, theoretically, delayed construction work in the field should the appeal process linger for some time.”

ConAgra has been objecting to the project since this spring as its subsidiary Lamb Weston has a french fry plant in American Falls, Idaho, located near the proposed fertilizer project.

The company in May filed an appeal to the DEQ claiming concerns over issues related to employee safety, nuisance odors, waste waters and potential construction dust.

While both companies have remained in communication in an effort to resolve the problem, if the two companies are not able to reach an accord, then according to the DEQ appeals schedule, the next phase will allow for depositions and the filing of discovery request, with both parties expected to conclude these efforts by mid-September.

A hearing on the merits of the case is scheduled for 24-26 September, with 13 October set as the anticipated date of the presiding officer’s decision.

Sorbo said ConAgra would be able to appeal that decision to the DEQ’s board of environmental quality, but that it would be the last option within the structure of the agency.

He said that despite having to deal with the objections from their potential neighbour and the extended appeals process, the fertilizer project remains on schedule and is proceeding as planned.

Houston-based Magnida intends to construct an estimated $1.5bn nitrogen plant in eastern Idaho whose goal is to lessen the need for imported fertilizer within the region.

Construction is planned to commence in mid-2015 with production anticipated to begin by late 2017. The planned nitrogen plant will produce 2,200 tonnes of ammonia per day, which will be used to make urea, urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) and diesel exhaust fluid (DFE).

 

By Mark Milam