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Ad tackles dustup over elevator dust

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agriculture Grand Forks, 58203
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

Dust and debris emitted from the Mayport Farmers Co-op Elevator has some Mayville, N.D., residents concerned for their health and urging the elevator to install dust control systems before expanding.

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Jeff Bachmeier purchased a full-page ad in Wednesday's Herald, writing a letter from the citizens of Mayville to the elevator and its board of directors. The ad called on the board to "become a good, responsible neighbor and make the needed changes to the current facility."

"I think the directors are good people but as a corporation, we don't seem to be getting the results we are asking for, and we're not asking for no dust or pure clean air," Bachmeier, who lives within a block of the elevator, said in an interview "We're asking to put those items in place that can reduce the dust to an acceptable level."

'Looking at this'

Bachmeier said "an interested party outside of Mayville" helped finance the ad. The same letter was sent to all nine board directors before it was printed in the newspaper, he said.

Richard Moen, president of the elevator's board of directors, read the letter over the weekend. He said a proposal to build two new storage silos has been submitted to the city's Planning and Zoning Commission. The proposal includes the installation of a $249,000 bag-filter system, which would connect the old and new storage silos and help minimize the dust.

"We have been looking at this," Moen said. "But when we want change, nothing happens fast enough for any of us, but we've been looking at this for several years."

Mayville City Auditor Gail Olstad said the elevator filed for a building permit with the commission May 14. The commission is waiting for a letter of understanding to determine if the elevator can build in a zone that is designated for general business.

But the plan isn't happening as fast, or how, Bachmeier and others would like it to. The group wants the board to install a dust control system to the existing structure first, to ensure it works properly.

"Before they add anymore issues to what's currently there, we ask to have it tested instead of building the silos and have something that doesn't work," Bachmeier said.

Moen said that is a possibility; however, it makes more economic sense to do it as one project, cutting labor costs.

Health impact?

Bachmeier contends if the elevator can purchase two new silos, they should be able to afford dust control systems for the existing facility.

"To an organization building those silos, I think it's a cost they can afford to spend and help out the citizens of Mayville," Bachmeier said. "I think it would satisfy enough citizens to allow the building of the new silos."

The issue first began after two silos and a grain dryer were built in 2006. Bachmeier said the new expansion increased grain storage, resulting in more dust that bothered more citizens.

The expanse in storage was direly needed, Moen said, with trucks continually dumping their harvests and rail cars loading their hauls. He said depending on the wind, the dust from both can affect different areas.

"Some days are worse than others, some crops are worse," he said.

As a result of the debris, Bachmeier said he has found it more difficult to breath, developing asthma sometime after moving into his house in 2002. He said others in the area have asthma, too, but is not sure how they developed the condition.

Bachmeier is waiting on his medical records to see if the elevator could have contributed to his condition.

"I believe my real issues with my conditions began the end of 2006 and beginning of 2007 after the new additions went on," Bachmeier said. "The only thing that has changed in my environment was the new addition."

Reach Jerke at (701) 787-6736; (800) 477-6572, ext. 6736; or send email to tjerke@gfherald.com.

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