Gas plant's hearing date likely to be changed

DAYTON - Owners of a gas manufacturing plant will have to wait until mid-October before finding out if they can reopen.

According to Lyon County District Attorney Leon Aberasturi, Advanced Specialty Gases officials have agreed to reschedule a Sept. 27 hearing to sometime between Oct. 15-18.

"We met with ASG last Friday and have a tentative agreement with them to push back the hearing date. They will determine the best day for them," Aberasturi said on Tuesday. "They were real cooperative about it and have been during the entire investigation. They are making everyone and everything available to us. ASG has also offered to give each of the county commissioners a tour of the facility."

ASG has not been in operation since a June 30, 2000, explosion in the distillation processing room and, due to a lengthy investigation process, has released most of its plant employees.

At a public hearing on July 26, Lyon County commissioners postponed a decision to temporarily suspend the plant's special-use permit, saying they wished to wait until an investigator's report is completed. The matter was continued to the Sept. 27 revocation hearing date. On Thursday they will determine whether to once again delay the hearing process.

Doug Martin, principal manager of the project for SECOR, was recently injured in a motorcycle accident, causing SECOR officials to request a postponement.

SECOR, a national engineering and applied sciences firm, was hired by Lyon County to conduct an independent investigation into operations at the Dayton facility.

Commissioners will also be adopting official hearing procedures for what is anticipated to be a lengthy day of testimony.

Aberasturi said he expects the hearing to last from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. "or longer, depending on what happens."

Noting he really didn't have much choice, ASG President Michael Koonce on Tuesday acknowledged he agreed to the delay, but still expressed dismay SECOR had not made any effort to make arrangements to come to the nitrogen trifluoride manufacturing facility.

"They began their investigation in June and, except for one visit to watch us fill some cylinders, have never been to the plant regarding the alleged charges, or called to make plans to do so. I am somewhat concerned the review is being done in a vacuum," he said. "We have many, many records and I don't understand how they can be gone through very quickly."

With repairs to the facility nearing completion, Koonce was hoping to get approval from Nevada Division of Environmental Protection officials to begin operations; however, the state has yet to give it the go-ahead.

State Bureau of Waste Management Supervisor Mark Zusy said on Friday his staff is still evaluating the firm's compliance to their concerns, but did not commit to a date for final approval.

"We have not given them the go ahead yet. We are not certain of a completion date, but staff is working with ASG right now."

He emphasized that state approval is not tied to the SECOR investigation or the hearing date.

What: Lyon County commissioners meet

Where: Administrative Complex, 27 S. Main Street, Yerington

When: 9 a.m. Thursday.

For information: Call 577-5037 (Dayton/Silver Springs) or 463-6531


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