Johnson County landowners concerned over use anhydrous ammonia a - KCTV5

Johnson County landowners concerned over use anhydrous ammonia at proposed cold-storage facility

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A group of Johnson County residents is suing the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners to stop a company from building in their neighborhood. (KCTV5) A group of Johnson County residents is suing the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners to stop a company from building in their neighborhood. (KCTV5)
Lineage Logistics is a cold storage warehouse for food. They already have one facility in Edwardsville and want to build a new one near 159th Street and Moonlight Road in Olathe. (KCTV5) Lineage Logistics is a cold storage warehouse for food. They already have one facility in Edwardsville and want to build a new one near 159th Street and Moonlight Road in Olathe. (KCTV5)
The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners has approved the project, despite opposition voiced at public meetings. (KCTV5) The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners has approved the project, despite opposition voiced at public meetings. (KCTV5)
JOHNSON COUNTY, KS (KCTV) -

A group of Johnson County residents is suing the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners to stop a company from building in their neighborhood.

Lineage Logistics is a cold storage warehouse for food. They already have one facility in Edwardsville and want to build a new one near 159th Street and Moonlight Road in Olathe.

The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners has approved the project, despite opposition voiced at public meetings.

Mike Jensen founded the group Concerned Citizens for Responsible Government as a direct result of the project.

“We strongly feel that this was a rubber stamp deal; that this deal was made eight months ago and their process is nothing but a show,” said Jensen.

Jensen and his neighbors don’t want another large, noisy building near their homes. Their key concern is Lineage Logistics’ use of anhydrous ammonia as a refrigerant.

“It's a sad situation when our government, the people we elect to watch after us, let us down,” said Kenneth Moll, who has lived in his home there for 75 years.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, anhydrous ammonia is toxic, corrosive and can be deadly.

Residents KCTV5 News spoke with are alarmed by news reports they’ve seen on ammonia leaks. A leak at a seafood facility in Boston last year was deadly, and that’s not the only story they’ve heard.

“We've talked to a gentleman in Nebraska that has lifelong injuries because he lived near a pipeline that burst. One of his neighbors drove into the cloud. He thought it was fog and it killed him instantly,” said Jensen.

Within a mile and a half radius - Jensen’s estimated minimum evacuation zone if a leak were to occur - he said there are about 1,800 homes. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and an adult detention center are just across the street.

Vince Werkowitch is a resident and retired sheriff’s deputy. He worries a Hazmat team couldn’t respond quickly enough.

“In good weather, perfect weather with not a lot of traffic, their response time is about 15 to 20 minutes,” said Werkowitch. “These inmates and the deputies have an absolute right to have their safety thought about by our elected officials.”

The sheriff’s office tells KCTV5 they do have an evacuation plan in place for inmates at the jail.

University of Missouri-Kansas City chemistry professor David Van Horn said the biggest risk with anhydrous ammonia occurs during transport.

“If the truck or the container is compromised in an accident, then you can have a release,” said Van Horn.

Lineage Logistics tells KCTV5 they’ll store 40,000 pounds of ammonia in a closed-loop system. They said it’s essentially a one-time delivery.

Van Horn said anhydrous ammonia is widely used, so the engineering for it and safety protocol are well-established.

“The risks might not be completely eliminated, but there are ways to safely use potentially hazardous materials,” said Van Horn.

A spokesperson with Lineage Logistics issued this statement:

Lineage Logistics is committed to upholding the highest safety and compliance standards in the industry. We have more than 110 years of experience storing, handling and moving the global food supply.  We take our role as guardians of the food supply chain very seriously, and we are equally committed to keeping the communities in which we operate safe. Our proposed facility at New Century is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Lineage has robust internal safety and compliance programs which help ensure we are operating in full compliance with all required rules and regulations.  Government agencies can and do inspect our facilities and safety programs and policies. Agency inspections can be scheduled by the agency or completely unannounced. We encourage anyone interested in learning more to visit our project website at www.lineagelogistics.com/new-century.

According to records from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Lineage Logistics’ Edwardsville facility had seven violations in the last two years; two were serious.

That doesn’t give this group of concerned citizens much confidence. That’s why they’re demanding that Johnson County stop the plan from moving forward.

“We elected you. We voted for you. We did not vote for Lineage Logistics and we expect you at a very base level to operate with responsibility,” said Jensen.

Their lawsuit will move forward with a court hearing in November.

KCTV5 reached out to the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners. They continue to support the project by Lineage Logistics, saying New Century was designed for industrial use and the use of anhydrous ammonia by other companies across the county has proven safe.

The BOCC said they followed all state statues in approving the plan.

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