Baker Hughes might ask the Minot City Council to reconsider its decision to deny the company a special use permit to store flammable chemicals in a new warehouse it is building along the north portion of U.S. Highway 83 bypass, said Ralph Crabtree, vice president of real estate and facilities for Baker Hughes.
The council had turned down Baker Hughes' request in May because the warehouse facility is located close to where the new Erik Ramstad Middle School will be constructed.
The denial doesn't prevent the company from operating under current city ordinance but it does severely limit the quantity of certain chemicals it can store in the warehouse to the point where company officials believe operations will be impeded. Crabtree said the denial of the special use permit could increase traffic in the neighborhood from the originally expected three to four trucks per week to 13 to 14 trucks per week.
"We think, from a responsible perspective, it's better to limit the number of vehicles (in the area)," said Crabtree.
City council members, Minot school board members and other city representatives were given another tour of the facility on Tuesday and an update on plans for the site, which will open July 1.
City council member Blake Krabseth said it was an opportunity for people from the community to gather more information about the facility.
Crabtree emphasized that the company places a high priority on safety and that it has been built to specifications that exceed the city's safety regulations. The city requires a fire sprinkler system in its facility, but Crabtree said Baker Hughes has installed a foam suppression system. The city fire marshal has given approval for the facility. Minot school board vice president Jim Rostad said Tuesday that the school board is also comfortable with the facility right now and would not object to Baker Hughes receiving the special use permit.
Crabtree said there has been some misinformation circulating about the facility. He said the facility will operate as a high technology center, repairing, and calibrating oil field equipment and only about 20 percent of the site would be used for chemical storage. Crabtree said the amount of chemicals stored at the site are about the same amount as would be stored at a gas station and the chemicals that will be stored there are highly diluted with water.
Crabtree said the facility will start with about 100 employees and expand to up to 250 over the next 18 months. The jobs will have pay that exceeds the county average. Some will be highly technical, while others will be available to high school graduates. Crabtree said Baker Hughes has also talked with the Minot School Board about the possibility of partnering with the vocational and technical center at Minot High School.
"We want to be good neighbors," said Crabtree.