(Advocate file photo)

Gasoline Alley oilfield equipment storage site approved despite concerns

Aspire Energy buys and reconditions oilfield equipment for resale

A company that reconditions oilfield equipment was given approval by Red Deer County for a new Gasoline Alley storage lot despite objections from neighbouring property owners.

The county’s municipal planning commission unanimously approved an application by Blue Rock Management Ltd., which owns the sites used by Aspire Energy, which buys used oilfield equipment to clean and recondition for resale.

County senior development officer Denise Bedford said the company has recently purchased more equipment than it could store on its existing site so moved some of it to nearby lots to store temporarily. The site will be used only for storage and not to work on the equipment.

Planning staff recommended that the company be given a two-year approval — reduced from the usual five-year approval for applications of this kind — for temporary storage. That will give the company time to fix up and sell the equipment it has. After two years, they could ask for an extension, which would go through another planning review.

However, the owners of nearby properties were not happy to see the business expand to the new lots.

Eva Mah, representing the Mah family, who own 83 acres directly south of the proposed storage lot, are concerned about the potential environmental impact of the development.

Mah told the planning commission the family is concerned that if there is any contamination it could leach into the water table. That could mean future soil testing and remediation costs and raise the question of who is responsible for paying.

The family asked the county to require the applicants to agree in writing that they will be fully liable for any future on-site or off-site remediation, that engineer-aproved containment facilities be in place and the property screened.

Danielle Moore, whose family owns 158 acres of agricultural land near the storage site, told the planning commission they are concerned there may not be monitoring in place to ensure the development is not having a negative environmental impact.

Any contamination could have an impact on farmland and the prospects for future development.

Mayor Jim Wood said he could support the application on the grounds it is only a temporary, two-year approval. The mayor also proposed an amendment requiring screening.

Coun. Philip Massier said he supports the storage proposal, noting one of the conditions of approval is that any contamination of the environment as a result of the company’s action must be remediated at its cost.

Massier said the application reflects an extension of a business already in place. County staff said there had been no complaints raised about the existing business.

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