A new proposal for a propane/petroleum storage and distribution facility has invoked concerns from not only Lansing residents, but also the town planning board.
The planning board held a public hearing on Feb. 22 for the proposed facility by Mirabito, and a couple of residents expressed some worries about the location of the project and how it would impact the safety of those nearby it.
“I am concerned about what I’m seeing in the proposal, given that I live practically right across the street from this place,” resident Deb Harper said. “I have concerns about the safety of having four gigantic … storage tanks not that far from my house.”
“When the first tanks went in – or the tank; however many were over there – I thought that was pretty much the end of the story, and now it looks like they want four more large tanks and I’m not really sure about having that much explosive material in a little strip where there are a number of houses here,” she said.
Resident Joe Williams said he was concerned that the area is becoming too industrialized and how this proposal, if approved, could impact property values in the future.
“I know Lansing itself is supposed to be very agricultural, and it does look like that way,” Williams said. “But with the previous Mirabito being there … it’s ideas like that coming through, it just gets a little worrisome that we’re starting to put all these large corporations in here as opposed to focusing on smaller, more tight-knit community services and places, which then of course affects my housing price or appraisal – not that I’m selling or hoping to move or anything like that. I think everybody is always concerned about what their worth is and their investments.”
Mirabito’s proposal is for the construction of three 30,000-gallon petroleum bulk storage tanks and one 30,000-gallon propane bulk storage tank that would be built alongside an existing one, and a garage and office building on 15 Town Barn Road.
Fire Chief Brad George was in attendance and presented a couple of proposals for increasing safety at the parcel if the project were to be built on it, one being a deluge system.
“It would be fed off municipal water supply, and the studies that were done show that the municipal water supply that’s already there is adequate to sustain about 1,100 gallons a minute without using an electric booster pump that I thought maybe would be needed to get the sufficient flow,” George said. “Given the fire load that would be on the premises, this would help at a very early stage mitigate anything for fire suppression or knocking down if they had a major leak that would help knock down the plume and things like that.”
He also suggested that a windsock be constructed from either the town barn or along the road so that first responders can have an indication of what direction the wind is heading. He said he was unsure of what both proposals would cost, but they would be worth the money
“Just being proactive, looking at the safeties of the residents of the town, for the risk-versus-benefit I don’t think the cost is that great,” George said.
Multiple representatives of the project spoke at the meeting as well. Wayne Matteson, the project’s site engineer, said he is not sure of how much a deluge system would cost either, mainly because they are not typically built on the company’s bulk storage facilities. Brett Hughes, Director of Real Estate Development for Mirabito, explained this further.
“We did kick it around internally at length,” Hughes said. “We are not familiar with deluge systems. We operate about a dozen bulk plants located throughout the northeast. We don’t have them at any of those facilities. It wasn’t sacrificing safety; we pride ourselves on safety. We feel like the plan that’s been submitted with the equipment and the technology that we’ve implemented through the equipment … are top of the line, state of the art technology. Safety is at the top of my core list at all times, and we just feel like the deluge system is an unnecessary application relative to this project at this time. It’s not strictly a cost concern, but it’s also a cost balance with what’s required and we’re not familiar with these systems, and the reason why we’re not familiar is because they’re not required in the various bulk plants that we operate.”
The development team also brought Ted Lemoff, a former member of the National Fire Protection Association where he was the association’s principal gases engineer, to address the safety concerns shared by the public.
Lemoff described propane as “not dynamite,” but a “fire progressor.” He said the concern should not be worried about propane causing an explosion from leaking liquid, but instead be focused on safety protocols to prevent a “vaporfi explosion,” which he said is a “release – the most probable case for a release is from the piping – and the piping just blows into the air, the propane vaporizes” and eventually forms a cloud.
Though he has not reviewed Mirabito’s application, Lemoff said there should be precautions and procedures to prevent such an explosion from occurring.
The planning board will hold another public hearing in March on the project with a third party in attendance to provide an outside perspective on fire safety related to the proposed development.