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Beatty town board supports US Ecology expansion proposal

BEATTY - At its Sept. 28 meeting, the Beatty Town Advisory Board was in a very advisory mood.

They approved two letters to advise the Board of County Commissioners on two matters.

The first letter was in support of the proposed expansion of the US Ecology hazardous materials disposal site located within the Beatty town boundaries. The expansion has faced some opposition from residents of Amargosa Valley.

The letter notes that the proposed expansion involved a "process that has taken years and required the cooperation of multiple Federal, State, and Local Governmental agencies."

After giving some history of the facility, which began operations in 1962, and originally accepted low-level nuclear waste, the letter asserts that "US Ecology has worked closely with various regulatory agencies tasked with ensuring environmental safety, public health and safety, and in general being a responsible member of our community and Nye County."

The letter goes into some detail, measures in place at the facility for the protection of groundwater, air quality and even preservations of night sky darkness and concludes, "In short, when it comes to public health and safety and the environment, US Ecology must cooperate and comply with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, as it historically has."

Another section of the letter deals with the economic impact of the business, which needs the expansion in order to continue operation beyond the next couple of years.

About half of the company's employees come from Pahrump, the rest being residents of Beatty and Amargosa Valley. The letter also notes that one of the company's major suppliers is IMV in Amargosa Valley and that companies dealing with US Ecology use truck transportation and the "truck drivers purchase fuel, food, goods, and services in Nye County."

The letter cites a 2014 study that estimated the economic impact of the company's Nevada activities at almost $17 million, and employment involving some 142 jobs and over $7 million.

In conclusion, the letter says that "the Beatty Town Advisory Board and the Town of Beatty believe that US Ecology will continue to be a responsible member of the Beatty community, Nye County and the State of Nevada as it has been historically," and asks that the application for expansion be approved.

The other letter concerned a proposed bill to repeal Nye County Code Chapter 3.28, which was established in 2000 to govern the use of PETT (Payment Equal to Taxes) money from the Nevada Test Site.

That law established that the money would not go into the general fund, but would be set aside for certain specific purposes. The language of that original bill set up this manner of using the money because of "the non-recurring and/or contingent nature of the PETT disbursements."

The letter cites a series of inter-fund loans executed by the county, taking money from the "emergency fund" portion of the PETT money. It notes that one on November 24 of last year involved $1 million, one on April 30 of this year was for $850,000 and one on July 14 transferred $3 million, each of which was supposed to be repaid after one year.

Board treasurer Erika Gerling questioned the legality of these actions, saying that the law, as she understood it, forbade such transfers without a public hearing and could not be done at all with funds that had been set aside for a particular purpose.

Gerling and board member Crystal Taylor indicated that the proposed repeal of Chapter 3.28 is a move on the county's part to put all the money in the general fund and avoid having to repay the loans.

The letter says, "It is our request and recommendation that no action be taken relating to Chapter 3.28 until all inter-fund loans have been repaid. In our opinion it is not reasonable to make a decision to repeal this Code until the funds created under it are made whole and a detailed accounting of the transactions, revenues and expenses, which have taken place in each of the funds, is made available for public view."

The board dealt swiftly with other matters on its agenda, approving a request for $6,700 to pay for electrical installation in the Beatty Museum's new addition, allowing the Beatty Chamber of Commerce to use the Community Center Nov. 14, for a Nevada Commission of Tourism familiarization tour of Beatty and to spend up to $350 on this year's Christmas lighting contest.

They also agreed to spend up to $750 dollars on registration and hotel fees for Beatty Volunteer Ambulance Service Coordinator Allison Henderson to attend the International Trauma Conference in Las Vegas in November.

Roland Benton, from the Nye County Sheriff's Auxiliary, was on hand to give a brief introduction concerning that program. He plans to return to the board's next meeting with a presentation that will be on the agenda.

 

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