Mirabito’s proposal for an installation of three 30,000-gallon petroleum bulk storage tanks on 15 Town Barn Road – just north of its convenience store and gas station, and where the company already has one propane tank placed there – has brought up some safety concerns by those living at its neighboring properties.
To obtain a better understanding of the safety risks the proposed project could present, the Town of Lansing Planning Board enlisted fire protection engineer Tim DeRuyscher to review Mirabito’s site plan.
One issue DeRuyscher mentioned from his assessment of the site plan was the fact that the distance between each of the three adjacent storage tanks as well as the distance between those tanks and the 30’ by 50’ truck loading rack area were not specified. (The truck loading rack area is where the petroleum would either be drawn from or poured into the tanks.)
“The NFPA [National Fire Protection Association] standards and the fire code talk about a distance separation,” DeRuschyer said at a planning board meeting on April 26. “Some things say 15 feet; some things say 25 feet. A reference about a distance separation from the loading rack to the tank storage with a premise that if there was a fire event, if there was a problem at the storage tank, it would not affect the truck that’s loading or off-loading, and conversely if there was a problem at the truck, where there was leakage and/or a fire event, it would not expose – and that’s probably the more severe exposure – it would not expose the tanks themselves.”
Another potential problem DeRuyscher noticed dealt with the fact that the plan illustrated the storage tanks as partially underground and partially above-ground.
“The concern is the standards and the reference codes don’t want to have the ability to have a fuel leak and then a consequent fire that would go and carry a fire underneath one tank to the next tank,” he said. “In addition to that, also … the fuel truck loading rack area is right next to those storage tanks with no real reference to elevations and how that would be separated.”
DeRuyscher also suggested that Mirabito consider using UL 2058 storage tanks instead of the standard UL 142 tanks as the former are more protective against fires.
“While the UL 142 is a steel tank, if there is a fire, that kind of tank does allow the tank to be heated when certain grading and other conditions are there,” he said. “Since it’s not clear, we don’t really know how the concrete – like the vaults that they’re sticking these tanks in – we’re not sure how they’re going to go through and do that.”
He added that the UL 2058 tanks eliminate the need for a fire department to put water on the tanks to cool them down and prevent pressurization.
Mirabito was represented by Wayne Matteson at the April 26 meeting. Matteson was unclear as to why the focus was on the regulations and standards that Mirabito will need to abide by for the project when the company is simply looking to see if the bulk storage tanks would be a permissible structure on the property.
“The site plan is meant to depict what is supposed to be going on out there if it gets approved for petroleum bulk storage,” Matteson said. “It’s understood that any petroleum bulk storage activities would be done in accordance with NFPA, DEC, EPA requirements. I’ve not run across having to put a lot of this detail that’s been called out in this report on a site plan since the basic question before the board is – is it an acceptable use to put petroleum-bulk storage on this property, understanding that it’s going to be done in accordance with the regulations that govern the situation?”
“Some of the other stuff, I’m sure it’s spot on, but just gets kind of a little bit into the weeds of the more specifics of the actual tanks and what not, which, again, would be constructed and installed – same thing with a loading rack – in accordance with DEC and EPA regulations,” he said. “We basically show on the site plan where these activities are going to take place, and we’ve given what they normally have for containment for these 30,000-gallon tanks.”
Russell Wark, Director of Facilities, Compliance & Safety at Mirabito, was also in attendance at the meeting this past Monday and reiterated Matteson’s point.
“We’re meeting all NFPA guidance from the New York State DEC and the EPA on [these] UL 142 tanks, which is the standard of what goes in place,” Wark said. “The only time you see vaulted tanks or concrete would be impact zones like at an airport, not at a bulk plant such as this. This is within all the laws and regulations – this tank, design and setup on how this is situated – by all the guidance that we have and by all the bulk plants that we do build in multiple states, and is better than what is downtown in Ithaca now. I don’t see why we have to go above and beyond what’s permitted and regulated and approved by the standard we’re putting forth.”
The board agreed that it would like to see a method for mitigating the spread of a fire from one tank to another, whether it be with higher protective concrete walls between each tank, some sort of water spray system or a different type of tank, be shown in the site plan. Matteson said he will discuss the matter with the company and see what it is willing to do.
“I don’t know what they want to do at this point as far as changing the tanks or anything like that,” he said. “I’ll show whatever would be best for the situation, but I have to know what they want to do, because at this point I think they’re thinking what they’ve submitted is perfectly legal and in line with the town’s requirements and with the state’s requirements and the EPA’s requirements. Even if it doesn’t call out exact separations, there’s plenty of room on the property and it can be seen from the site plan to maneuver everything. We’d be glad to show a little more detail on exactly how those tanks are going to be situated and what’s going to be under them and more of a section view that might be of assistance.”
The board asked Town Attorney Guy Krogh whether or not it has the ability to require a certain type of tank be used in the project to which Krogh said the board does have that ability, though it must be connected to the “basics of land use review,” such as public safety or environmental impact.