State ready to green-light Simplot Rock Springs ammonia plant

by WyoFile staff
— June 3, 2014

None of 19 Wyoming agencies reviewing Simplot Phosphates, LLC’s application to build a $350-million-plus ammonia plant near Rock Springs has found a reason to oppose the project.

Agencies, from the Game and Fish Department to the Department of Transportation and Public Service Commission, responded to requests from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to weigh in on the plan to build the plant 5 miles south of Rock Springs on Simplot property. Five divisions in the DEQ also responded.

Based on the comments, the DEQ’s Industrial Siting Division recommends only conditions “common to all permits” be required of Simplot. Those 14 conditions range from one requiring construction to begin in three years to one mandating Simplot secure “all required State land local permits and approvals…” 

Simplot responded to each of the agency comments through the law firm Holland & Hart. Simplot lawyers pointed out repeatedly that many of the agencies had no authority to require changes to its plan.

Those analyzing the application expect a temporary need for nine new teachers and staff, one law enforcement officer and a 0.84 full-time fire protection position. There’s a prediction of 285 additional trips to the emergency room, an increase of 1.4 percent, according to the state documents.

Agency comments include a mind-numbing 208-pages of traffic analysis in Rock Springs.

The DEQ Solid & Hazardous Waste Division said it can’t tell if the ammonia plant would require a permit from it. “Simplot needs to explain the type and quantity of hazardous waste they will produce during facility operations and why a hazardous waste permit would or would not be needed to manage those wastes.”

Simplot, through Holland & Hart, said simply that “the ammonia production process itself will not generate any hazardous waste.

“There are some catalysts used in the ammonia plant that are changed every three to ten years,” the response said. “Simplot currently does not know the exact makeup of these catalysts because they have not yet been specified. However, Simplot does not believe that these catalysts will be hazardous wastes and Simplot plans to recycle these through a vendor “specializing in this work.”

In its application, Simplot said the ammonia plant would not discharge anything harmful. “There are no anticipated chemical, physical, biological, or radiological discharges associated with construction or operation of the proposed Project that would substantially impair the health, safety, or welfare of the present or expected inhabitants in the area of site influence or the proposed Project area,” the application states.

The application process for the ammonia plant included a previous round of comments, a DEQ review and catalog of deficiencies, and Simplot’s response to the missing information. See the Industrial Siting Division’s summary of the process here.

The Industrial Siting Council will decide whether to issue a permit for the plant starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 4, at Holiday Inn Rock Springs under rules governing contested cases. Council members Gregg Bierei, James Miller, Richard O’Gara, Peter Brandjord, John Corra and Sandy Shuptrine will consider the permit under the chairmanship of Shawn Warner.

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  1. You want diversification of the economy, yet it takes 19 state agencies (including 5 divisions of DEQ) to comment on their application? Holy cow. One division of DEQ does not even know if Simplot has to comply with their rules or not?

    Governor Mead, Legislators, State of Wyoming, Wyoming Business Council take note. While there needs to be a level of regulation to help manage the impact of industrial facilities like this to ensure public health and safety, nobody in their right mind would want to bring a new business or expand their existing business with regulatory environments like this. Unbelievable.

  2. If this is a plant producing anhydrous ammonia for use in the production of fertilizers – the explosive potential doesn’t appear to have been mentioned here. I’m not sure what the exact location of the proposed plant is – but if I was a resident of Rock Springs – I’d want to have that information to determine proximity as well as the effect prevailing winds would have on any accidental gas releases!

  3. It makes a lot of sense to build this sort of facility where a large source of natural gas is available. Better to do this than send the natural gas to Louisiana, make the ammonia here, then ship it back to Wyomong. If you don’t want this sort of facility, Louisiana does. Memo to government — Set the rules & get out of the way.