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Organic farm’s customers worried about asphalt plant proposal

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

CARBONDALE, Colorado – The managers of an organic foods store here are worried about an asphalt batch plant proposed near an organic farm south of Rifle that supplies produce to the store.

Bedrock Resources LLC has proposed building an asphalt batch plant on a 35-acre site on Mamm Creek adjacent to the 1,200-acre Eagle Springs Organic Farm. The farm lies near the Garfield County Regional Airport.

“This would be disastrous,” said Laurie Loeb, president of the Carbondale Community Food Co-op board.



Loeb said she is worried an asphalt plant just upwind from the organic farm would spread potentially hazardous chemicals onto the crops.

She called the proposed plant a “huge threat” to the convenience and security of buying a large share of the co-op’s produce from a source within Garfield County.



The issue will come before the Garfield Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) at 1 p.m. today.

Eagle Springs owner Ken Sack told the BOCC on Feb. 6 that the farm’s certification as an organic farm would be jeopardized by the presence of an asphalt plant next door. He said the farm employs 50 people, and represents an investment of more than $12 million in the three years since he began operations.

Attorney Dave Smith, representing Bedrock Resources and landowner Charles Ellsworth, said the plant operators will work with the farm to keep impacts to a minimum, just as nearby gas drilling operations have done.

“In short, we would like to be as good a neighbor as possible, and be a model for the kind of partnership that can happen between industry and agriculture in the county,” Smith said.

Eagle Springs manager Bryan Reed worries that may not be so. He said soils tests were gathered adjacent to an asphalt batch plant near Silt, and analyzed by the Accutest LabLink Mountain States laboratory in Wheat Ridge.

The analysis revealed the chemicals 1-methylnapthalene and 2-methylnapthalene, which Reed said are known to damage or destroy red blood cells, and napthalene, which he said has been linked to cancer in lab animals.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports a variety of pollutants are commonly emitted from asphalt batch plants.

Those pollutants, as catalogued in an EPA emissions assessment report in 2000, include small airborne particles of sand, metals and organic compounds and “a variety of gaseous pollutants” that come from asphalt processing equipment.

The gases include nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, methane and volatile organic compounds, according to the EPA report.

But Reed said there are no reports connecting the dots between asphalt production and organic farms.

“We don’t have any reports on pollutants showing up in organic farm products, because no one locates organic farms next to industrial areas,” Reed said.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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