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Proposed Trenton refinery moves forward

By Eric Killelea | 0 comments

 The Williams County Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday recommended its approval for a proposed diesel hydro-skimming plant and tank storage facility that may become the largest employer in Trenton.

Forty citizens attended the meeting, some expressing concerns about the request of Dakota Oil Processing for a conditional use permit for a refinery on 162 acres in Hardscrabble Township, southwest of Trenton. The small town had a population of 340 two years ago and would be greatly impacted by the project.

Patrick McGarry, representing the company, said the plant will have the capacity to process 20,000 barrels of crude oil daily into diesel, naphtha, residual fuel and other primary distillation products.

Diesel fuel and other products such as drilling distillate diesel fuel will be distributed from the site by trucks. Naphtha and residual fuel oil will be transferred to the adjacent new rail facility for transport to other refineries or for other uses such as crude diluent.

The construction of the refinery would last at least 24 months, requiring 400 workers on site, McGarry said. It would create 124 full-time permanent employees, making it the largest employer in Trenton.

“The refinery is scheduled to hire as many as 60 to 80 percent of its workforce from local individuals who have enough oilfield experience to be easily trained for refinery work,” McGarry said. “The yearly salaries will range from $55,000 to $175,000.”

The expected increase in population and increases in household income should create demand for products and services now underserved or non-existent in the Trenton area, such as basic shopping for groceries, clothing, automobile services, health care services, some of which will also benefit Williston businesses, according to McGarry.

“The local economy will also benefit from an additional $17 million in products and services that the plant will purchase on operations annually,” McGarry said.

Ray Pacheco, the director of the planning and zoning department, said the proposed project changed locations in the last two years.

A portion of the property was zoned in 2012 for the purpose of the refinery, but the applicant applied to rezone property set further east along 42nd Street Northwest. This was denied in September 2013.

On Dec. 10, Hardscrabble Township recommended approval for the newly proposed conditional use permit and asked the county to force the applicant to pave 42nd Street and 147th Avenue in conjunction with the construction of the facility.

Residents agreed with the township and wanted the company to pave the four miles. However, several expressed concerns as to who would maintain the heavily trafficked roads bordering three townships.

Pacheco said paved roads would be enforced, and the applicant would have to maintain the road for the life of the project.

Additional conditions would be addressed through a development agreement.

The commission approved the conditional use permit with eight conditions, and adhered to planning and zoning department recommendations that a drainage plan, on-site dust control plan, traffic study, storm-water management plan and road paving and improvement plans be submitted for approval to the county building department as part of the permit process.

Also, a 40-foot planted buffer would exist along the perimeter of the entire project, the county would receive proof of compliance with the North Dakota Department of Health and the county must approve an overpass planned for vehicular access on the property.

The Williams County Commission is scheduled to hear the recommendation on Jan. 14.

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