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Laurel's Proximity Malt hit with permit violations

Shannon McNaught * Delaware
shannon.marvel@doverpost.com
Milford Beacon

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has issued Proximity Malt, of Laurel, three notices of violation.

Proximity Malt uses locally-sourced grain to produce malts for craft brewers. It was founded in 2015 by Dale West, Dale Bugajski and Steve Furcich. While the company headquarters is Milwaukee, it has malting plants in Monte Vista, Colorado and Laurel.

The Laurel plant, at 33222 Bi-State Boulevard, opened in early 2018. It employs 23 people.

During a January 2019 inspection, DNREC found that certain Proximity equipment had been operating for a year without a permit, despite “numerous” communications stressing the importance of obtaining a permit.

DNREC issued Proximity three notices of violation Jan. 14, which have all since been corrected.

The first dealt with the construction of malting equipment that continued past Proximity’s construction permit expiration date of Oct. 1, 2017. A revised permit application wasn’t received until Nov. 20, 2017, and a new permit wasn’t issued until Mar. 25, 2019.

Proximity’s Vice President of Operations, David Kuske, said it happened due to a contractor’s mistake.

“Due to a number of circumstances, Proximity Malt ended our relationship with our general contractor in early 2018 and began assuming responsibility to complete the Laurel projects internally,” he said.

The second violation was that construction of the roaster went on longer than the rest of the equipment, also without a permit.

Operations began Jan. 1, 2018, again without permit, leading to the third violation.

The department said that Proximity communicated that they had begun testing equipment in January 2018, but not that they had begun operating. “Operating,” which includes the “receipt, handling and shipping of grains and operation of the associated natural-gas fired kilns,” requires an air quality permit.

The notice states, “This operation was not disclosed to the department despite numerous communications from the department requesting information on the status of construction and operation.”

In regards to the second and third violations, Kuske said Proximity submitted “a number of written requests” for permit extensions.

“Neither the DNREC engineer assigned to our projects nor I were aware that approval of the full resubmittal of the permit was required in order to continue with project construction, completion [and] commissioning (testing) of equipment,” Kuske said.

Department representatives declined to comment citing the potential for further enforcement actions.

Proximity Laurel regional manager Vic McGary has been in his position for about four months. He said the violations caused no environmental effect. Kuske said that the previous manager had nothing to do with the violations.