A locomotive refueling plant near Hauser, Idaho, eventually may have three 900,000-gallon fuel tanks.
Two 900,000-gallon tanks always have been a part of Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s plans for a locomotive service station. But plans submitted to state and local officials by the railroad show an optional third tank could be built in the future.
If the third tank were built, it would mean 2.7 million gallons of diesel fuel would be parked above the Spokane-Rathdrum Prairie aquifer. If the railroad meets contingency requirements for containing a spill, there is little to prevent it from installing the tanks.
The railroad will talk about its plans for the 350-acre, $30 million facility Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Lakeland High School. Public interest is expected to be high, considering intense opposition to Washington Water Power Co.’s attempt to place a 5-million-gallon diesel fuel tank near Rathdrum in the early 1990s. Burlington Northern is meeting with the Idaho Division of Environmental Quality and the Panhandle Health District before Wednesday’s gathering to agree on requirements for the project, railroad officials said.
Panhandle Health District officials initially are enthusiastic about the designs submitted by the railroad. “Everything I’ve seen so far looks good,” said Jeff Lawlor of the Health District.
The locomotive refueling plant would have six fueling stations and could employ as many as 75 people divided between three shifts. The tanks would be located above ground, have double metal bottoms - with a leak detector between the two layers.
Each tank would have two additional liners in the ground underneath the tanks - each also with a leak detector. The railroad also would capture any water from the refueling site, run it through an oil-water separator and haul it off-site.
Burlington Northern has a refueling operation in the Spokane Valley. That may remain as a locomotive maintenance facility, sources say.
Railroad officials met with Gov. Phil Batt and other state and local officials in June to start laying the ground work for the locomotive refueling plant. The railroad will have to acquire a conditional use permit from Kootenai County and may have to have the zoning changed on some of the property before building the plant.
Kootenai County commissioners make the final decision on the conditional use permit.
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