Experts testify for company that wishes to build asphalt plant in Brown Township

REEDSVILLE – Brown Township residents continued to hear testimony during day three of the Zoning Board hearing on a proposed asphalt plant, Thursday evening at the Dutch Country Inn, Reedsville.

The first two days of the hearing took place in January, and Thursday’s testimony started where it left off, with expert testimony on behalf of Center Lime and Stone, who wishes to build the asphalt plant.

The hearing began with the re-direct of Charlyn Reihman, who is a senior manager of safety and hygiene for IES Engineers testifying as a noise expert. In January, Reihman stated noise is measured at different levels and then the levels are compared to what is stated in the municipality’s noise ordinance. During a brief cross examination in January, Brown Township Solicitor Jeff Snook asked Reihman if any noise studies had been performed at the proposed property. At the time a study had not been conducted, but in the break Reihman said one has been completed.

“We did an ambient noise study on the proposed property here in Reedsville,” she said. “We tested 10 points around the perimeter, which included the corners.”

The study was completed on Feb. 12 between noon and 1:30 p.m., and Reihman said the baseline levels showed some areas with decibels above the current noise ordinance in a residential zoning, and close to the levels of non-residential zoning. During her testimony, Reihman could not account for why the ambient noise would be higher than what the ordinance states.

When asked about how the noise could be controlled, Reihman said several mitigation barriers could be taken into consideration.

“A mitigation barrier is anything that will help to absorb the noise,” she said. “For example, if the source is an engine, a muffler could be used. In other cases, some type of barrier like a berm could be used. The berm should be something that is porous to absorb the sound, like grass or dirt.”

She also said as someone would move away from the source of the noise – for example, toward the property line – the noise would become softer.

“Noise is reduced six decibels every time you double your distance from the source of the noise,” she explained. “However, this is dependent when certain weather conditions are factored in, such as wind.”

Reihman continued to say if the plant is built, she believes the noise level could be controlled so it meets the requirements of the township ordinance.

“However, I am concerned that the levels with nothing there are already close to or above the current ordinance, for both residential and non-residential zoning,” she said.

Snook asked her if the conditions of the site when she conducted the study, which occurred while there was snow on the ground, were factored into the results. Reihman said the snow would actually lower the decibel levels because it helps to add a porous surface to the ground.

Following the redirect of Reihman, Amy Pack who was testified as an air quality and meteorology specialist.

Pack is a senior project scientist for IES Engineers, and created odor models based on five sources typically found in an asphalt plant.

“The five sources I used were the stone dryer, filling of the silos, filling of the trucks, the concentrate tanks and general source emissions,” Pack said.

Pack explained she ran a screening model to determine the odor concentrations and compared the model levels to the requirements in the township ordinance. In this instance, she found some common compounds including carbon monoxide, methane, acetone, naphthalene and many others. The model looked at these compounds on a parts per million basis on an odor detection threshold and all were found to be below the acceptable amount listed in the ordinance.

“When finding the numbers through the model, I put the sources through the worst case meteorological case possible,” Pack explained. “Each source had to be calculated in a separate model for the compounds. I then compiled the results with the proposed property limits. This helped to determine what the effects on the ordinance would be.”

Snook asked Pack if the model she used was the same type of model system that attempts to predict the weather, to which she responded “yes.” However, Pack did say that while the base model system may be the same, different variables are taken into consideration when measuring the compounds in question. She also said that without seeing the plant in operation, definitive answers are difficult to determine.

Acting as legal counsel for the zoning board, John McCullough asked if the study was conducted within the standards of the industry, and whether the model considered mobile sources such as trucks, which could contribute to the smell.

“This model did not, and typically by industry standards, most do not take those into consideration because they are not usually in one place on the property too long,” Pack said. “However, if the board would require it a model could be determined to help factor mobile sources in.”

The final person to testify Thursday night was Robert Schlosser, a principle project engineer with IES Engineers. Presenting testimony as an air quality engineer expert, Schlosser said he helped to conduct a study to determine the amounts of particulate matter that could result from the proposed plant.

“Air quality emissions differ from odor in that odor is a human perception to a gaseous air contaminant,” Schlosser said. “Generally, particulates do not cause an odor.”

Schlosser also said that particulates are generally solid materials that are tiny in size and can be emitted through various sources, such as stacks used for asphalt storage or even vehicles traveling on a roadway. To help determine if the plant would violate the township ordinance emission limit of 1 pound per hour, per acre, Schlosser used estimated numbers from the Environmental Protection Agency to produce the possible numbers.

“I looked at EPA emission factors from the stone dryer, paved roadways, silo filling and truck loading, and then adjusted the numbers to fit the anticipated production of the proposed plant,” Schlosser said. “From there I had to follow the ordinance procedure to determine compliance.”

Schlosser continued to say after the corrected emission rates were totaled, the rate for the proposed facility would meet the allowable emission limits in the ordinance.

He also said there are ways to help minimize the dust from sources. For example Schlosser said a bag similar to that of a vacuum cleaner can be placed on the stone dryer to help catch the dust, and water trucks could periodically wet the roads to help reduce truck dust.

Testimony from three more experts on behalf of Center Lime and Stone still needs to be heard by the board. The next Brown Township Zoning Board hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on April 10, at the Dutch Country Inn, Reedsville.