Last month, Brian Ratcliff, an attorney representing the Delek: El Dorado Refinery, presented a petition before the Union County Quorum Court asking for the closure of a portion of Hinson Road. Tens of Union County residents attended the meeting to make their opposition heard, and they are still hoping that speaking out will make a difference.
“Big business is going to survive. They’re going to survive if that road closes or stays open,” said Matt Reynolds, a Hinson Road resident. “They’re going to survive. … The only thing they might do is sell the refinery to another company, and they’re going to keep on operating it.”
Reynolds lives in the 1600 block of Hinson Road, and said if part of the road is closed, it would slow emergency services by several minutes. Delek has proposed closing Hinson Road from just past Victory Baptist Church to just before Friendship Primitive Baptist Church. Disabled himself, Reynolds said the thought of emergency services being delayed is scary for Hinson Road residents.
“If your old grandma lives out there and you go to visit her and the next thing you know, she falls out with chest pains, do you want the ambulance to be putting a sheet over her or do you want them to get there two or three minutes earlier?” he said. “If Delek has that road closed and some old people die because of the timeframe difference of getting first responders to them, I promise Delek will never feel the blow. They could care less. We have to live with these people, we have to see them at church.”
El Dorado Fire Chief Chad Mosby said the EFD sometimes assists the Parkers Chapel Volunteer Fire Department with fire calls if necessary. He said he does believe some response times could be slowed if the portion of Hinson Road is closed, depending on where service vehicles are at the time of the call. Chief Steven Keaster, of the PC VFD, was unable to be reached by press time.
“In some cases, yes, it would take a little bit longer. For the most part, no,” Union County Judge Mike Loftin said about emergency service response times.
Ratcliff said the primary reason for the proposed closure is to promote safety, citing standards imposed by the United States Department of Homeland Security.
“The primary reason we’re doing this is for safety,” he said. “After 9/11, there were all sorts of different rules and regulations that have been made and it is in that context that we are being asked to close this portion of the road, to make the plant a safer place.”
The standards he cited are part of the Dept. of Homeland Security’s Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Risk-Based Performance Standards. According to those risk-based performance standards, “this guidance … does not establish legally enforceable requirements for facilities subject to CFATS.”
Loftin must now appoint a panel of three viewers to weigh the pros and cons of closing the portion of Hinson Road. On Monday, he said he has not appointed viewers yet, but that he planned to start on the process within the week.
“I’ve had a lot of people call. I’ve had a little bit from both sides; some say close it, some say don’t,” he said.
However, he hopes to avoid the process if possible, he said, and he thinks a different solution that would meet Delek’s needs could be found.
“I’m going to Delek myself first, to see if I can work it out some way,” he said. “I’m going to do my best to fix this thing before I have to hire viewers.”
On Friday, Loftin said he had not yet been able to meet with Delek representatives.
Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or [email protected]