Environmental review underway for propane storage expansion in Owatonna

Contact: Cathy Rofshus, 507-206-2608

Rochester, Minn.— Pirkl Gas Inc. plans to more than double its storage capacity for propane gas at 204 Mineral Springs Road in Owatonna. The business is adding four aboveground tanks, each holding 45,000 gallons, where it currently has four tanks, each holding 30,000 gallons. As required by state rules, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) completed an Environmental Assessment Worksheet on the expansion, which is open for public comment through July 9.

State agencies use the worksheet to decide whether a more complete Environmental Impact Statement is needed. The worksheet covers site location details, nearby resources, potential hazards, stormwater control, traffic and other elements.

Located in an industrial area of Owatonna, the facility has been a propane storage site since 1996. The existing facility also includes a warehouse, office and garage, all located within a fenced area. The site is bordered by Maple Creek to the north, general commercial property to the east, a railroad line to the south, and an auction house to the west. The closest residential area is 250 feet to the south and 500 feet to the east. The nearest park is Dartt’s Park, about one-quarter mile to the east. Buxton Trail runs alongside Maple Creek, including a section north of the propane storage site.

The proposed expansion requires permits from the city of Owatonna along with plan approval by the Owatonna Fire Marshal. The city permitted Pirkl to add two of the four proposed tanks immediately, with permission for the final two tanks contingent upon completion of the state environmental review.

As with all propane storage facilities, concerns include the potential for fire or explosion and/or a release of propane to the atmosphere. According to the worksheet, city of Owatonna firefighters are aware of the facility and proposed project, and periodically conduct training specifically on fighting propane tank fires. The tanks will be built at or above industry standards and subject to Fire Marshal and National Fire Protection Association requirements.
Because of flooding concerns, the city is requiring that the base of the tanks be set one foot above the base flood elevation as part of its conditional use permit.

According to the worksheet, traffic will be slightly higher to and from the site from September through March — when propane gas is delivered to homes and businesses for heating — and lower the rest of the year. Truck traffic will occur during normal business hours.

The full worksheet for this project is available on the MPCA website by searching for “MPCA environmental worksheet” on the internet. It is also available by calling Beth Tegdesch at 651-757-2100. Comments on the worksheet, which must be in writing, should go to Kevin Kain of the MPCA’s environmental review unit at kevin.kain@state.mn.us  or MPCA or 520 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN  55155-4194. All comments must be received by 4:30 p.m. on July 9.