By Joe Benedict
MVM News Network
MONTROSE – Wever resident Lori Beckert returned to the Lee County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday with a list of questions she and several other residents of the town would like answers to concerning the Iowa Fertilizer Plant, which will be built near Wever.
She asked last week for the supervisors to hold a meeting in Wever so residents could have a discussion with the supervisors about their concerns.
The questions submitted include asking what risk assessments were done and emergency planning, if any environmental impact studies were done, if so, what the results were and if not, will there be one and will it be available to the public?
The residents also asked about the risk to wildlife, Lost Creek and the Mississippi River.
Water usage and runoff also are concerns. A question is the source of the millions of gallons of water the plant will need and how the plant’s wastewater will be handled.
Infrastructure questions include the cost of building roads in the area. As part of an agreement with parent company Orascom, the company is supposed to pay for road improvements.
But the group also looks at rumors like an overpass over the railroad tracks, an overpass across Highway 61 to 180th street and a rumor of a new Burlington bypass so the transportation of hazardous material doesn’t have to go through Burlington.
To go with road issues, the group also is concerned about increased truck traffic, which may decrease safety on the roads in the area.
The taxpayer contributions also were questioned, including the fact that the board of supervisors gets to decide where the PILOT money from the plant goes.
The group also would like to know what the board has in mind for Green Bay, Wever or Lee County overall.
A second person came to discuss her concerns with the plant on Monday and she had her own set of questions.
Kristen Brookhiser read a letter to the board that she said she had emailed and did not get a response.
Several of the board members said they did not get the email.
Brookhiser said she’s not against job creation, but asked if the plant could have been built somewhere else, such as the industrial area south of Fort Madison, where plants like Siemens and Climax are located.
Many of her questions were similar to the other group’s questions, often related to water concerns and pollution.
She also has three young children and said she worries about their safety with the construction equipment coming close to her home and the increased truck traffic.
She also asked if the plant would drive away business from the local businesses in the area.
“I for one, and I am certain this is true for other residents as well, chose to live in Wever for the small, quiet town. I did not choose to live in a large, industrial area. I enjoy the quiet, the fresh air, seeing the stars at night. I desire to raise my children apart from big city and industrial life,” she said in her letter.
Both sets of questions submitted to the supervisors mention the company being Egyptian and site concerns about unrest in the Middle East. Backert’s questions note the factory is five miles from the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant and Brookhiser took it one step farther, asking if Lee County is opening itself up to terrorist attacks.
The plant is manufacturing anhydrous ammonia, which can be used in bombs. A similar fertilizer, ammonium nitrate, was used in the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995.
Board Chair Janet Fife-LaFrenz said the board will set up a meeting as soon as possible. She was asked if the meeting could be held before the Nov. 6 election so people could be informed voters.
Green Bay Township lies in the first supervisor district. That seat is now held by Larry Kruse, who is not seeking reelection to the board and running instead for the Iowa Senate.
Fife-LaFrenz lost in the Democratic primary to Matt Pflug. He is running against Republican candidate Mike O’Connor. Supervisor Gary Folluo, a Democrat, is the only incumbent running for re-election this year and he is in District 4.
Lee County Auditor Anne Pedersen said she will check with some locations in Wever to allow for a large number of people to attend a meeting.