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After 3 years, pipeline issue is over

By Staff | Nov 10, 2013

After much debate and effort even a one-year moratorium to draft an ordinance Buffalo Lake Energy has found an alternative way to deal with a problem affecting Faribault County.

Michele Stindtman of Faribault County Planning and Zoning and Soil and Water Conservation was present at the Faribault County Commissioners meeting to discuss the ethanol plant located near Fairmont.

“The facility has been closed for about a year and a half,” Stindtman says. “December 2013 is the deadline for them to comply with the stipulations in order to reopen.”

One of the stipulations that was established in 2010 was for the facility to find a way to deal with water discharge from the ethanol plant.

The facility proposed the construction of a pipeline, crossing county lines into Faribault County to discharge the water into the Blue Earth River. This caused a series of hotly-debated discussions over the next couple years.

“They have assured me that the pipeline is not going to happen,” Stindtman says. “When they reopen, they will be a zero-discharge facility.”

After Buffalo Lake proposed the pipeline to the Faribault County Commissioners in 2011, the Planning and Zoning Commission put a one-year moratorium in place to draft an ordinance from scratch.

In March 2013, the ordinance was complete and approved by the commissioners.

However, the ethanol plant still had issues to work out with the city of Fairmont and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. So, the pipeline is no longer an option.

“Their permit still allows them to discharge into the nearby creek,” Stindtman adds. “But that will only be storm water.”

The commissioners were happy to hear the plant will reopen as a zero-discharge facility.

“They are not building a pipeline which means they are not dumping on their neighbor,”?Commissioner Tom Loveall says. “That is a major step.”

The plant is now said to be in compliance with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s requirements and will be able to reopen.

“Nothing is final until Nov. 18,” Stindtman adds. “After that date we would be able to bring in someone from the plant to update the board.”

The commissioners were prepared to deal with the possibility of a pipeline coming into Faribault County, but now they won’t need to worry about discharge from an ethanol plant in the neighboring county.