Taft Hill Plant Manager Insists Facility is Safe

The manager of a Taft Hill asphalt plant that some people want relocated says the plant is safe and it would be difficult to move it to a location that wouldn't affect anyone.

Fort Collins, Colorado — The manager of a Taft Hill asphalt plant that some people want relocated says the plant is safe and it would be difficult to move it to a location that wouldn't affect anyone.

The plant operated by Martin Marietta Materials is the target of a petition drive started this year by Citizens Against Asphalt Toxins. The opponents want voters to help them drive the plant from its location along the Poudre River, Poudre Trail and within a half mile of Lincoln Middle School.

"I would challenge anybody to find two miles in Larimer County where I can move and not affect anyone," said David Lemesany, regional vice president and general manager of Martin Marietta Materials' Rocky Mountain Division.

Opponents were unsuccessful in preventing the plant from getting its permit renewed, so they are now trying to get enough signatures to prevent the city of Fort Collins from purchasing asphalt from the location.

The group believes the plant is unsafe and should be moved to a location further away from people. If put on the ballot and passed by voters, opponents believe the reduction in business could force the facility to change locations, the Fort Collins Coloradoan reported (http://tinyurl.com/mqjb67b ).

Opponent Karen Hare said current regulations for the plant aren't strict enough.

"We realize that the permitting process doesn't protect us, and that the school will continue to be exposed to the emissions from the plant," Hare said. "A lot of the laws and zoning needs to be reevaluated."

Fort Collins had contracts to spend $5.7 million with the plant in 2014. City officials said Martin Marietta Materials has been a good company in the community for years.

Lemesany said business lost if the proposed measure were passed wouldn't cripple the plant, "but we'd like to have the business, and we think it would be bad for people if we didn't."

He said the plant and its emissions have already been tested by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and municipal agencies. Air quality monitors are periodically placed on asphalt plant employees and tested to ensure a safe work environment, he said.

The group hopes to get the measure on the April 7 municipal ballot.