ASG President concerned with pace of investigation

DAYTON - Advanced Specialty Gases President Michael Koonce is concerned with the pace of the county-backed investigation into plant safety and operating procedures.

He also wants assurance that he is properly notified of all county discussions regarding his business.

Attending last week's Lyon County Commission meeting, Koonce said he had not received notification from the county of that day's scheduled discussion of a preliminary report from SECOR, the investigating agency under contract to the county.

"This is such a critical thing to our business, we should be made aware of all meetings," he told the board. "We have not been contacted by SECOR. They have not been on the site. We also talked that after the first of August we wanted to get together with Leon (Aberasturi, county district attorney) and SECOR to arrange a schedule to start to come out and review our records. That has not happened.

"I am very concerned SECOR will not be ready. We feel it would not be appropriate to deliver a report without ever having come on site to see what it is they are dealing with. We just hope things aren't being dragged out here."

Aberasturi and SECOR principle engineer Doug Martin were unable to attend the meeting, but Martin sent a letter explaining the status of their investigation.

According to Martin, SECOR has begun a review of the records, files, engineering, health and safety documents, and other reports regarding the siting, construction, safety record, and operation of the ASG plant. He stated it would be premature to issue any conclusions or preliminary findings.

"SECOR has completed this preliminary step of record review and is commencing a process review of the site equipment and operation standards and procedures. In addition, SECOR is commencing verification modeling of the worst-case release scenarios as submitted. The remainder of the project will focus on the engineering controls and human health risk associated with potential release from the plant in a manner that assumes failure of engineering controls."

Lyon County commissioners will hold a public hearing on Sept. 27 to discuss possible revocation of the special use permit for the nitrogen trifluoride production facility. The plant has not been in operation since a July 30, 2000, explosion in the nitrogen tri-flouride processing tank.

Commissioner David Fulstone requested the District Attorney's Office prepare an outline of possible rules and procedures for the meeting.

"This is going to be an almost quasi-judicial type hearing and we should have the same decorum as a courtroom would have," Fulstone said.

He noted that displays of gas masks and placards should be restricted to outside of the building.

At the recommendation of Assistant District Attorney Robert Auer, the meeting will be held in Yerington. He noted that meetings held outside the county seat have special noticing requirements "that can complicate things."

In response to a request from Koonce that he be supplied with a list of the charges and the supporting evidence as soon as possible, Auer said, "You will be noticed from the district attorney as to specific charges if there is evidence to bear that out, but we can't do that until SECOR provides us with them."


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment