Darren Doyle, story:
Hellervik Oil Technologies has agreed to move their proposed gas plant back further into the woods instead of the lot that's been prepared located in the 16000 block of Louisville Road, near the 31W-422 junction, according to Dr. Lowell Hellervik, CEO.
The relocation of the proposed plant comes in the wake of a strong community opposition to those living near the proposed site, especially Steve and Debbie Miller, who live just a few hundred feet from the site.
A community group started circulating a petition on change.org that opposed the location of the plant and requested specific questions be answered from Hellervik. Comprehensive studies were requested regarding:
Blast Radius (in the event of an explosion, the distance from the explosion that the fire consumes)
Thermal Radiation (in the event of fire)
The petition also asks that Hellervik maintain a proactive approach and work openly with the community to address any and all issues that arise before the plant is operational.
A spokesman for the group, Stephen Miller, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Miller, said that up until now, these questions and requests had not been answered or addressed.
Dr. Hellervik said the reason for the delay in response to these questions and requests were due to huge delays in Hellervik's entire operation, and until many things that have to happen behind the scenes are complete, those questions could not be answered.
"There are other complications," Dr. Hellervik said. "We're having trouble on the customer end over in Bowling Green. We're trying to line up customers and we're talking to a variety of customers over there about what are the best solutions to the issues over there. There's some possibilities that we may just be adding Edmonson County gas to other gas to supply the Industrial Park or what have you. There are a variety of issues around that that are yet to be resolved. We have not, of course, put the gas plant in there and at this point and time I'd say if we did put a gas plant there, it will be up the hill farther, and up into the trees so that it's less likely to be seen."
Dr. Hellervik also said technology would allow the plant to run quietly and wouldn't be anything like the failed plant at Rocky Hill.
"I don't think people should get too excited about the gas plant right there in that spot," he said. "There are just too many issues floating around for us to move forward on it. We're still working on it but we're not sure at what terms things will happen."
The Edmonson Voice shared this information with Mr. Miller and asked for his response.
"Well, this is more than we've found out in months of trying to contact them," Miller said. "We've been asking these questions again and again and their field representative said he would pass along to the decision makers, but it's been months and we've heard nothing. Our position still hasn't changed. Until someone can answer these specific questions, we will continue to oppose the gas plant in a residential area. But I'll also say that hearing that they're willing to move the plant is very positive."
According to Hellervik, once more of the behind-the-scene steps are completed on the business side of things, the technical questions can be answered, but delays in the current operation are causing too many unknowns.
At an August 2016 meeting, Hellervik announced that the plant would be in the middle of a 127 acre plot that was densely wooded; however, the company only owns around 9 acres of that, and the gravel lot prepared is certainly nowhere near the middle of the property.
"I don't have a clue as to where the middle of all that acreage is, so I don't want to say 'middle,' but certainly up the hill and into the woods is what our intention is," said Hellervik. "We're talking about making the prepared lot a parking lot or something like that."
Dr. Hellervik also said that if this response didn't appease the local community for now, he'd be willing to hold a town meeting with local officials as participants or moderators and open it to the public; however, he says at this point he won't have much more information available.
"We've got to get our customers squared away. We've got to get our pipeline squared away. There are a number of pieces that have proven to be more problematic than what we originally thought. I promise you that it won't be near the road where that gravel lot is now."
Miller said that he and the community understands that Hellervik doesn't have to work with the community at all, but Hellervik were the ones saying they'd be a community partner, and by not responding to their questions in a timely manner gave the community reason to believe otherwise.
"We just want them to prove that it's safe and to put the plant where they said they would," said Miller. "That's what we're asking."