Scott City residents voice loud opposition to plant

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A special Scott City council meeting Monday night to discuss a proposed railroad-tie treatment plant ended with shouting at city hall.

The standing-room-only crowd was made up almost entirely of residents opposed to the project, many of whom drew applause when they spoke against it.

The plant, proposed by North American Tie & Timber LLC, would treat railroad ties with a carcinogen called creosote.

It would treat more than 1 million ties each year and store them at a plant near the railroad tracks on the south side of Main Street.

Mayor Norman Brant began the meeting by clarifying where the project stands. North American Tie & Timber owns part of the property and leases another part, Brant said.

“We’re not very far down the road at all,” he said, adding permits and zoning issues still would need to be addressed before the project could move forward. “There’s things that has to be done before they start building.”

The city’s and North American Tie & Timber’s legal counsel attended the meeting.

Several of residents who spoke identified themselves as cancer survivors, and others identified themselves as parents.

All expressed their displeasure with the proposed plant and fear for their and their children’s safety.

Some speakers, including area developer Monty Keesee, expressed concern about the plant’s effect on property values.

Keesee said the company was “trying to bully its way into our community” because North American Tie & Timber attended the meeting with legal counsel.

“I can only hope and pray we are successful in stopping this business coming into our town,” Keesee said. “It don’t pass the smell test to me.”

Andrew Reinhart, a pharmacist and Scott City resident with a background in cancer research, said any jobs that may be created by the plant would not outweigh the threat to public health the plant would pose.

“There is absolutely no good that can come of this,” he said, adding the plant would result in “at least 30 cases of cancer during its lifetime, to say nothing of the number of jobs it might create.”

Alvin Bates, one of North American Tie & Timber’s owners, addressed the crowd near the end of the meeting, saying he felt the opposition as stated by citizens was premature.

“We haven’t even presented you our technology,” he said later. “We have a lot of misinformation [being discussed] about our technology.”

The technology used in the proposed plant, he said, would be unlike any other used in the United States.

He said similar technology is being used in Belgium.

He said his company wants to add to the Scott City community.

“We chose Scott City because it was strategically good for us,” Bates said. “More than that, we found it was a good employee base. We have good employees here. We want to be a good employer; we want to be a good corporate citizen. ... We feel like we’ve been good citizens. We’ve worked hard to be good citizens.”

As the tone of the discussion became more heated, Brant told Bates it was clear what the assembled citizens wanted.

“It’s nothing personal; we just don’t want your plant,” Brant said.

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