The Davison County Commission approved a conditional use permit for a Mitchell business to destroy and bury wind turbines, but plans for putting those turbines in the city’s old landfill are still tentative.
The commission approved the permit 5-0 in a vote Tuesday at the Davison County North Offices in Mitchell.
Bob Ball and his H&R Salvage business, which is located just west of Mitchell, got approval for the permit to increase tire recycling capacity and also to recycle wind turbines. The permits weren’t necessary, because the land has been a salvage and recycling facility since prior to the 1996 planning regulations were passed in the county. But the approval brings the facility to a conforming status.
Ball said the plan will be to shear 12 turbines per day and cut them into 3-by-7-foot pieces, and H&R won’t take out-of-state blades, and only South Dakota blades can go into a South Dakota landfill.
Ball said he’s open to a potential plan that would allow his business to destroy the blades on-site. For now, Mitchell Street and Sanitation Superintendent Kevin Roth said it’s the city’s position that it’s not going accept grinding and shearing at the landfill on East Havens Avenue. Ball proposed that his company could handle that work on-site to limit truck traffic in and out of the site, and could tailor the plan to make it more efficient in how the blades are disposed. He also offered to rebuild the road to the landfill, if that would help with access concerns.
Commissioner John Claggett said he was “deluged” with calls, asking why the county would accept wind turbines when the commission has not allowed wind turbines to be built in the county. He said governing bodies aren’t doing enough to hold wind energy companies and supporters accountable.
“I’m getting asked, ‘We don’t have active wind farms here, why do we bring that in?'" he said. "I understand those arguments. Can’t envision why this is called recycling when it’s thrown away. ... It’s really not recycling. It’s garbage.”
Commissioner Randy Reider argued he was thankful that Ball was knowledgeable about the process. Ball has had extensive experience dismantling General Electric blades at a Waste Management landfill in Lake Mills, Iowa.
“Someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing here is a scary thing,” Reider said.
Claggett said his comments are to send a message to the “wind tower people, that they’re not being responsible about the whole process.” Commission Chairwoman Brenda Bode said she didn’t disagree, but it didn’t change the proposal from Ball.
The first set of turbines to be destroyed would come from 34 towers in Wessington Springs, which are being recommissioned by NextEra Energy. Ball said he wants to put in the work to make the blade dismantling process as palatable as possible to all involved.
“I’m glad you did that,” Ball said of the commission’s decision. “It means a lot to come here and getting your approval. I’ll sure be willing to help you out wherever I can to make this work.”