EFSB hearing highlights disputes over risks and impact of propane storage plan for Port of Providence — ecoRI News

WARWICK, RI – Lawyers for both parties recently had the opportunity to discuss disputes surrounding Sea 3 Providence LLC’s proposal to add six 90,000-gallon propane tanks to vacant land adjacent to its Port of Providence facility. .

Sea 3 Providence presented eight witnesses for questioning by attorneys on January 18 and 19 during a hearing before the state’s Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB).

“The purpose of these questions is to ask what the establishment analyzes when talking about risk and impact,” said Allison Hoffman of the state attorney general’s office. “…what I’m trying to understand is [whether] the vulnerability of the underlying community is a factor.

Sea 3 Providence, a subsidiary of Blackline Mainstream LLC, has proposed to add six 90,000 gallon liquid propane gas tanks, also known as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), to vacant land adjacent to its existing facility at 25 Fields Point Drive. The facility houses a 19 million gallon cold storage tank, and the proposed expansion would connect the facility to a rail line allowing for rail deliveries to supplement ocean shipments of LPG.

During a plea hearing in July, the EFSB determined that there were several factual disputes in the case. EFSB Chairman Ronald Gerwatowski ordered plaintiffs and intervenors to prepare for an evidentiary hearing and to file testimony on the factual issues of the case.

Sea 3 filed a petition in March last year seeking to circumvent the full EFSB application process, arguing in its petition that the proposed project “is not a modification such as a comprehensive review of major facilities is necessary”.

The Conservation Law Foundation, the City of Providence, the Attorney General of Rhode Island and the People’s Port Authority have made motions to intervene. In an objection dated May 7, 2021, Attorney General Peter Neronha wrote, “The proposed increase in operations is significant and raises serious concerns about the cumulative addition of harmful air emissions associated with increased traffic from trucks in an environmental justice community already overburdened by pollution. , and other serious public health and safety issues related to the rail transport and storage of LPG.

Sea 3 officials pushed back the risk to nearby neighborhoods.

“What matters most to communities is [LPG] supply and price stability, and that’s what the project accomplishes,” said Willie Willis, vice president of operations and projects at Blackline Midstream.

Sea 3 witnesses downplayed the risk of accidents, LPG or increased rail and truck shipments. Railway engineer Jonathan Shute said train crashes will be “as rare as meteorites”, given that the speed of trains entering the port will reach a maximum of 10 mph.

Nicholas Vaz, co-lawyer for the attorney general’s office, noted that several meteorites are falling to earth daily. “Sometimes things aren’t as rare as they are discounted,” he said.

The waterfront site has housed an LPG facility since 1975, but operations ceased under previous owners in 2015. Blackline Midstream purchased the plot in 2018, starting LPG operations the following year.

“These railcar shipments are critical to meeting the projected demand for LPG over the next decade in the state and region,” Willis said. Sea 3 estimates it could expand its capacity to 100 million gallons per year with rail shipments.

But stakeholders doubted the projected demand.

“By 2050 we won’t be able to use LPG,” said James Crowley of the Conservation Law Foundation. “The state is going to have to find a way to get a carbon-neutral heat source by 2050.”

The EFSB heard eight of the 12 witnesses at the end of the scheduled two-day hearing. Gerwatowski said the board would schedule a third and possibly a fourth day to continue the hearing, with no date set for a final decision yet.

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