The Pryor Times

April 25, 2013

Too close to mine; waterline in plant’s way

Staff Writer
Cydney Baron

— Representatives of Buzzi Unicem USA discussed the new Salina water line at the Mayes Couty Commissioners’ meeting Monday.

Dave Puzan, plant foreman, described the company, saying it has roughly 100 employees right now which results in $8,000,000 in payroll. He said the plant spends $13,000,000 locally every year.

Puzan explained that he has to have a 500-foot variance alongside a water line of this nature allowing the plant to mine.

He said he believes this was unintentional but will cost him 16.6 years of business because much of the land cannot be mined near the water line. Buzzi mines calcium, silicon, aluminum, iron, lime and gypsum.

“The water line is on a county right-of-way, the county granted a permit, so it was all legal. What nobody knew at the time was that there is a law saying their operation cannot mine within 500 feet of the line,” Commissioner Ryan Ball said.

“I'd really like to work together on this. Possiby we could have discussed this in a more timely manner if I had known about it sooner. Perhaps in the future the commissioners could notify us of things like this,” said Puzan. “I'd also like to discuss safety. Up until last week there was no signage and this is a narrow road.”

He said flagmen are not present in the construction area and the narrow street is full of blind spots. He said crews are working in the ditches and he does not believe the trenches are braced.

“I'd just really hate for someone to get hurt,” said Puzan.

Ken Williams, another representative of Buzzi Unicem, requested the commissioners require permit holders adhere to certain standards. He said it can be required that new projects be safe and not jeopardize existing business.

“This is a big deal to us. We really need this to continue to operate efficiently. Basically, we need help,” said Williams.

As requested, the commissioners agreed to draft a letter in support of the company's plan to petition the state to allow the company to mine closer to the water line. The commissioners agreed to notify the plant of any other projects near the plant in the future.

Commissioner Darrell Yoder encouraged the town of Salina to offer the same support.

The commissioners approved the deposit of $69,920 to T-County Highway from the sale of equipment.

Johnny Janzen, Mayes County Emergency Management director, said the Spawinaw area did not meet the necessary damage threshold to receive assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

After the emergency commissioner meeting Friday, the board was notified that the state did not meet the $6 million threshold that FEMA requires to receive aid. Some funds will come from the state. The county can receive up to $100,000 and the commissioners will determine how the money is divided. The town of Spavinaw will also receive up to $100,000.

Janzen said the state currently has money in the emergency fund,  which means a faster pay out.