County will spend $5,000 for consultant to help with case against ASG

DAYTON -- Lyon County will spend $5,000 to hire a Massachusetts consulting firm to assist officials with their ongoing legal battle against Advanced Specialty Gases.

The county is appealing District Court Judge David Huff's Aug. 27 decision overturning the commissioners' October 2001 revocation of the company's special-use permit. The county will hold a second revocation hearing in December if the appeal fails and a negotiated settlement with the company fails.

Following a closed-door discussion Thursday, commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of District Attorney Leon Aberasturi's request to hire ENSR International.

The board twice postponed making a decision on Aberasturi's previous request to allocate $25,000 for an independent consultant to review employee statements and all other evidence introduced at the October 2001 hearing that resulted in the revocation of the gas manufacturing plants' special-use permit.

Aberasturi said he narrowed the scope of his proposal to get the process moving.

"I agreed with the commissioner's hesitancy to spend the money without knowing if a consultant will be needed, but I am kind of stuck. We will need the information if a second hearing is necessary," Aberasturi said following the meeting. "To get the process moving along, I asked ENSR what it would take to do a document review and to then discuss possible future steps. If it is necessary for them to come testify, we will have to discuss those costs at a later time.

Joining Commissioner LeRoy Goodman in continuing opposition to spending additional money on consultants, Commissioner David Fulstone made the only comments prior to the vote.

"This is basically spending money to (have someone) tell us what the record says," Fulstone said. "I think it is a waste of county money and I oppose it."

The county paid $50,000 to SECOR International to help it with its case during the first revocation hearing.

The nitrogen trifluoride manufacturing plant has been closed since a July 2000 explosion in the distillation processing room. Following the revocation of its permit, Advanced Specialty Gases sued the county for $5 million and asked the court to overturn the decision.

Citing the reasons for revocation as insufficient, Huff's opinion ordered the county to pursue negotiations or hold another revocation hearing.


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