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Bitter debate over salt

Riccelli's salt pile sits in the middle of the $18 million construction project, which may explain the sense of urgency noted last week.

Railex will link the state of Washington to the Rotterdam Industrial Park, delivering produce in five days. That is equivalent to the time taken by trucks to deliver goods. When each week's mile-long train of refrigerated cars arrives in Rotterdam, the produce will be offloaded to a 200,000 square-foot refrigerated distribution center under construction.

"Hopefully we can successfully relocate the existing tenant, because they supply a lot of the local municipalities with salt," said Dave Buicko, Galesi Group's chief operating officer. "It's cheaper if they don't have to ship it too far."

Buicko doesn't believe there should be a problem, noting that there has been a salt operation at the industrial park for the last 30 years.

He pointed out that Riccelli's current neighbors are Papa John's(r) and a dough manufacturer; neither one has ever complained to Galesi about the salt company, nor noted any health risks.

"It's pretty simple," Buicko said. "It's moving a tenant from one side of the park to another. Riccelli's been cooperative and agreed to move."

What happens if Riccelli's permit application is denied and the company can't move to make way for Railex?

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Buicko said. "As of right now, we're on schedule. We hope this isn't a major issue."

Galesi attorney Stephen Porter told commissioners that the salt company was a good tenant, urging them to approve Riccelli's request.

Frank Alexander, an air quality expert whose career began more than 30 years ago with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, opined that salt was a safe substance, after giving a lengthy presentation.

"Salt is a crystal with high density area that wants to go to ground," Alexander said, adding that New York has ruled stockpiling salt "a trivial activity."

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