Add Brown to Fight Against Ethanol Here

April 11, 2012

For the past year, it has seemed like many in Revere – most especially Ed O’Hara – have been the lone voices in the fight against a plan to bring Ethanol trains to the Revere Global Oil terminal, but now it seems that the fight is spreading and gaining some pretty important allies.

In a sit-down interview with the East Boston Times (the Journal’s sister publication), U.S. Sen. Scott Brown told a reporter that he would be hesitant to back any such plan without local approval – and likened the issue to his opposition of a large Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) facility that once had been proposed in Fall River.

When asked if he would stand with the residents again, he pretty much said he would, which is more than most in the federal delegation have done with the lone exception of Congressman Michael Capuano.

“For me, these kinds of issues are about location and concerns of those in the area who would be impacted,” said Brown. “For instance, I opposed the proposed LNG project in Fall River because I felt that it posed a safety threat to area residents. Community approval must be sought and granted before any project moves forward, especially if the safety of neighborhood residents is at stake.”

Already, Revere has registered a convincing ‘no’ vote on the Ethanol train proposal by Global, voting against the idea in a non-binding ballot question that appeared in last November’s City Election.

Meanwhile, several other neighboring cities that lie upon the commuter rail where the Ethanol trains would pass have also begun talking seriously about the idea.

In Everett, legislative bodies there have debated over the last several weeks whether or not to pass a resolution that would oppose Global’s plan.

Meanwhile, in Cambridge, its City Council has recently passed a resolution that registers opposition against the plan.

Boston City Councillors Sal LaMattina and Mark Ciommo have requested hearings with emergency responders to talk about the dangers involved in shipping the material through populated areas like Allston and Eastie. LaMattina went so far as to say it appeared to be a “recipe for disaster.”

Chelsea passed a resolution strongly condemning the plan at a meeting of its City Council last month.

O’Hara said he is glad to see that the opposition to the plan is gaining momentum.

“It’s about time,” he said. “More people should understand what’s being proposed and how many people this could potentially affect adversely.”

Global has indicated they would like to begin shipments along the rail lines to Revere at some point in 2012.

  • Frank S. DeMasi

    The ability to receive fuels in gasseous or liquid form by rail may have greater benfits to our region when the east coast gasoline refineries shut down since there may not be sufficient short term capacity in the pipeline network.  Also the region as a major trade center and one of dependence on supply chain logistics (we don’t make anything here anymore) we need a viable multimodal transportation system and port infrastructure.  The magnitude of this tank car move assures continued viability of Boston’s freight rail and port logistics capability.
    Please note that Ethanol is not as highly rated as are other dangerous gasses and liquids.  Transportation Security Agency does not consider Ethanol at the same high risk level as poisonous inhalents.   Also as stated in the Mass DEP Ethanol report although the few tank car derailments of Ethanol have had sensational fires, and except for one incident, there were no fatalities, the spilled Ethanol had little or no long term environmental damages. 
    The advantage of having newly modernized rail ROW for the Ethanol trains from Albany to Revere will greatly mitigate the risk of derailment.  Most of the rail incidents involving Ethanol tank cars occurred on freight only ROW that is not maintained to the high standard as our rail lines.   The MBTA maintains class 3 (60 MPH Pass/40 MPH freight) to class 4 standards (80 MPH Passenger/60 MPH Freight) and slower speeds at crossings and on curves, on the row through the towns in our region and the route to be used for the Ethanol move.  The rail is continuously welded with out the rail joints that contribute to derailments on low density freight lines, and federal regulations mandate that they are inspected frequently.  Freight movements are made at less than 40 miles per hour and slower at grade crossings. 
    The Global license application for reactivating the rail delivery includes new siding tracks with the latest designs in trans-loading devices to contain any spills and prevention of fire.  Local fire departments receive grant funds for dealing with chemical and hazardous material fires and spills.   I hope any discussion of this move includes the extent of remediation training/equipment available and already of record.

  • RevereReporter(Staff)

    Been there, done that more than a year ago. We’ve talked about that in previous articles.

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