Company fined for nuisance ‘fugitive dust’ in Urbandale

By: - August 5, 2022 9:57 am

A company was recently fined for not controlling the dust from a road expansion project. (Photo by Bryan Bunton/Iowa DNR)

A company tasked with expanding a road in Urbandale failed numerous times last year to control the dust from construction, which led to complaints from neighbors, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Concrete Technologies, of Grimes, recently agreed to pay a $2,500 fine for the violations, DNR records show.

Those resident complaints stemmed from a project to expand Waterford Road west of 142nd Street to four lanes with a median and a bike lane. From July to November 2021, the DNR received five complaints about “excessive fugitive dust emissions,” the DNR said.

“This dust is a known carcinogen,” one resident wrote in September. “I am unable to work in my yard with this silica dust blowing when concrete trucks are driving through the dust that was never vacuumed.”

The DNR issued notices of violation to the company twice — once for failing to control dust from a temporary, unpaved road it used to travel alongside the new Waterford pavement, and once for operating a street sweeper without a vacuum to capture dust on the new pavement.

“We understand they’re putting a road in, and there’s probably going to be some dust generated with that,” said Bryan Bunton, a DNR environmental specialist who investigated the complaints. “We understand that, but what the regulations say is that a person shall take reasonable precautions to prevent particulate matter from becoming airborne in quantities sufficient to cause a nuisance. The question becomes: Were they taking reasonable precautions? I was out there several times, and in some of the cases they were.”

But other times they weren’t, he said. The temporary dirt road needed to be moistened or otherwise treated with another substance to control dust, and the company should have deployed a vacuum to capture dust as it was swept from the pavement. The company was very familiar with the state’s air-quality rules and should have taken steps to control the dust before state regulators intervened, the DNR said in an administrative order that levied the fine.

“There’s always going to be two sides to every issue,” Bunton said. “Our job is to go out and be impartial and look at the situation.”

The company agreed to pay the fine and comply with air-quality requirements going forward, the administrative order said.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register.