Dooley requests $80,000 for air testing near Fred Weber's Oakville operations
March 09, 2005 - By SCOTT MILLER
After a billow of resident campaigning, the county is putting Fred Weber Inc.'s Oakville operations to the environmental test this spring.
County Executive Charlie Dooley asked the County Council to appropriate $80,000 to GEI Consultants Inc. to test the air around the Baumgartner Industrial Complex, including Weber's south quarry asphalt piles.
"I'm glad to see the county has finally stepped up to the plate to have a small study done on the environment around the quarry," Council Chairman John Campisi, R-south county, told the Call. "I don't think the $80,000 is enough to do as extensive of a study as people wanted but it's something."
Dooley's request comes after months of health and environmental complaints from Oakville residents opposing Weber's request for a trash-transfer station as well as a recent zoning request that would allow the company to keep a 65-foot asphalt pile on land zoned for other purposes.
The most recent request for an environmental study came from the Isaiah cluster of Metropolitan Congregations United, or MCU, which conducted a non-scientific survey of roughly 360 residents of seven subdivisions surrounding Weber's asphalt piles at Baumgartner and Old Baumgart-ner roads.
The survey alleged residents around the quarry are more susceptible to respiratory problems, and MCU urged the county to study the site for pollution.
"It seems very likely that there are environmental factors affecting the health of St. Louis County residents in the immediate vicinity on the east side of the Baumgartner Industrial Area that are not affecting other south county residents," the report stated. "MCU believes that testing of the air is essential and that all environmental problems need to be remediated immediately ... Water and soil testing of the area in question can and should begin immediately."
But Weber previously hired Air Control Techniques of North Carolina to measure the environmental impacts of the asphalt piles. That study revealed no violations of any federal, state or local air quality standards.
Weber attorney Gary Feder of Husch & Eppenberger repeatedly has said that Weber operations have not had any impact on the environment or residents' health.
Weber's request for a trash-transfer station heightened the public's awareness of the company's Oakville operation.
Residents near the south quarry began digging for regulation violations by the company and discovered the land containing the 65-foot asphalt pile wasn't appropriately zoned for it.
To avoid having to move the pile, Weber requested a rezoning change, which the Planning Commission recommended the County Council approve.
Campisi said he will not act on the proposal.
After it sits idle for 90 days, the proposal will die.
If the study reveals no health or environmental hazards created by Weber's asphalt, Campisi said he still wants the 65-foot asphalt pile removed.