Legislation Filed to Stop Ethanol Trains

April 18, 2012
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Senator Anthony Petruccelli has become the first elected official to file any significant legislation to slow Global Oil’s plan to begin shipping ethanol into the area via train and storing the hazardous material at its facility on the East Boston/Revere line.

Last week Petruccelli added an amendment to a state transportation bond bill that would prohibit the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from issuing Global a Chapter 91 license to build the ethanol storage facility on the Eastie/Revere line until a comprehensive safety study is completed.
The study, explained Petruccelli, would include safety and environmental impacts along the proposed train route and subsequent storage facility. This would include the proximity to homes, nursing homes, schools and day cares along the train route as well as studying the proximity between residential areas and the proposed ethanol storage facility.

“The people of Revere and East Boston deserve to hear more answers to very important questions related to the transportation of ethanol,” said Petruccelli. “With the proposed language in the transportation bond bill, it is our hope that some time and pressure might be applied to federal regulators to provide that information.”

Petruccelli warned that the federal government would have to fund such a study because the feds have jurisdiction over the country’s rail lines.

Last month, activists from Eastie, Revere and Chelsea were out in full force to protest Global plan to train ethanol into the area.

At a DEP hearing at Revere City Hall activists held signs and chanted slogans opposing Global’s plan to transport millions of gallons of ethanol per year over the commuter rail tracks through Chelsea that will end up at the company’s storage facility on the Eastie/Revere line.

Inside the DEP hearing most people that testified were against the plan citing Global Oil’s proximity to many densely populated cities in towns and the fact the trains would also have to travel through these areas carrying the highly volatile fuel.

One Eastie teen at the hearing pointed to an incident in Rockford, Illinois in 2009 when an Ethanol train derailed and exploded killing one and hurting nine others in the rural town. It took 24-hours for the fire to be contained forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people from their homes.

The Eastie teen questioned what would happen if an accident like the one in Illinois happened in a more densely populated city like Eastie, Chelsea or Revere.

While most Ethanol trains do operate without incident every day around the U.S., on some occasions trains have had accidents in which the Ethanol product has exploded in a chain reaction, causing great fires.

Most of those explosions have happened in remote, rural areas because typically Ethanol isn’t typically transported through dense, residential urban neighborhoods.

Global’s plan, however, would call for ethanol trains traversing through residential areas on the commuter rail tracks in 25 cities and towns, including Eastie, Revere and Chelsea.

The trains would come down the commuter rail line from Ayer/Ft. Devins during the night hours when the commuter trains are not running. It would pass through the western suburbs and into Boston, where it would then transfer onto the Chelsea line and end up on the Eastie/Revere line, backing into the Global Oil terminal.

No one is exactly sure what the plan is for bringing in such large quantities of the product. Many companies do ship ethanol into the area by truck and by sea barge, but Global’s plan, by far, exceeds any quantities now coming in.

Each train would carry around 1.8 million gallons of Ethanol and there are expected to be at least two trains per week. Each tank car on the train holds 30,000 gallons.

Some believe Global will be using the Ethanol to blend much larger quantities of gasoline in order to supply a recent acquisition of hundreds of Exxon Mobile gas stations throughout New England.

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