EPA delays approval of AGP air quality permit

Victoria Lusk vlusk@aberdeennews.com
Farm Forum

An air quality permit for Ag Processing Inc. has been delayed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, citing inconsistencies and missing information in AGP paperwork.

That has delayed approval of what’s formally called a Prevention of Significant Deterioration permit, records show.

AGP is building a soybean processing plant in Aberdeen. The permit is required before anything beyond dirt work can begin on the plant site on the northeast edge of town.

A legal notice regarding the permit was published April 10, with the next 30 days reserved for public comment. Had no comments been filed, the permit would have been granted.

However, that was not the case. A certified letter from the acting director of the EPA’s air quality program was submitted and stamped as received May 11.

An enclosure with the letter includes nine comment-and-question areas that need to be addressed by the department and AGP before the permit can be approved.

The state, not AGP, has to respond to the EPA. But AGP will provide the state with any additional information it needs.

Kim Smith, information specialist with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the department is working with and responding to the EPA’s comments.

Questions from the EPA for important permits — like ones governing air quality — are not unusual.

“This is part of our normal process,” said Kyrik Rombough, state air quality engineer manager.

By rule, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources agency has 30 days to review the comments and respond. However, Rombough does not expect it to take that long. He said the responses will likely be filed by the end of this week or early next week. The EPA will then have 30 days to request a hearing or declare it has no further issues with the permitting.

“We’ll try to resolve any issues we can, and once they get resolved, the permit will be issued,” Rombough said.

The EPA has submitted comments regarding other large projects in the state, but has not requested hearings on them, he said.

Most of the EPA’s questions and comments simply ask for clarification or additional information: why the department tested the way it did or where its information came from, Rombough said.

No other comments regarding the permit were submitted.

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Construction equipment continued dirt work on May 3 for the AGP Processing, Inc. soybean processing plant being built on Eight Avenue Northeast near the Aberdeen Industrial Park. Farm Forum Photo by John Davis