Refinery Near Theodore Roosevelt National Park Poses Many Hazards

Opposition from local communities is growing against a proposed oil refinery near Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

The Davis Refinery, from California-based Meridian Energy Group, is awaiting air quality and water permits to start construction of its facility near Belfield, ND. Groups such as the Badlands Area Resource Council (BARC), an affiliate of the Dakota Resource Council, say it will hurt their community members in the backyard of this refinery.

Laura Grzanic, a member of BARC, lives a mile from the proposed site. “The heavy traffic, in combination with other projects going on, is going to create a lot of hazards,” she says. “The area does not have any traffic lights, traffic signs, turning lanes. It’s just going to be rather hectic for the locals to commute back and forth to work.” Grzanic has a water well for livestock and is concerned the refinery could impact the aquifer she draws from.

The scope of the refinery has changed several times over the past year. First proposed to process 55,000 oil barrels per day, Meridian changed the figure to 49,500 to skirt regulations from the Public Service Commission, which conducts reviews of facilities that process 50,000 barrels or more.

Commissioners have urged Meridian to submit to a review anyway, saying that without one, legal hurdles could take longer to clear. Grzanic says Meridian has increased its estimates for traffic on its permits too, from 80 trucks per day to 170.

Groups such as the National Parks Conservation Association also say it will hurt Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota’s only national park. The refinery will be within three miles of it.

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