Reno County Commissioners approve a plan to build a new gas storage facility southeast of Hutchinson. The above ground facility will store one and a half million gallons of natural gas.
Many living near the storage site spoke out against the plan. George Mack convinced nearly 90 of his neighbors to sign a petition protesting the plans which also include a shipping hub. They're concerned about more traffic congestion caused by trains and trucks along South Obee Road. However, their biggest fear stems from something that happened in Hutchinson nearly 12 years ago.
On January 17, 2001 an underground storage facility started leaking, sending natural gas into caverns beneath the city. A series of explosions across Hutchinson killed two people. "It sticks with you forever if you were around," Mack says. "It sticks right in the back of your mind."
The new facility would store the gas above ground. However, Reno County planner Mark Vonachen says there are no guarantees. "There are always concerns with a facility like this," Vonachen says. "No facility is 100 percent safe--there's always potential for accidents to happen. But his company is doing everything they can to ensure it will be safe for the public."
In the end commissioners approve the plan. The facility could add more than $25 million to the county's tax base.