April 1, 1998 in Nation/World

Bn Tank Plans Multiply Neighbors Of Proposed Railroad Fuel Depot Now More Nervous Than Ever

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A railroad refueling depot proposed near Rathdrum will put far more chemicals above the area’s primary drinking water source than originally proposed.

The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railroad now wants to build at least eight storage tanks holding more than 2.2 million gallons of diesel fuel, lubricating oil and water laced with petroleum products, according to Kootenai County planning records.

And a third, 1 million-gallon diesel storage tank will be added in the future, according to documents submitted to the county. All would be located at the current Hauser-Rathdrum area switching yard.

Railroad officials insist they will use triple leak protection and that the depot will be an economic boost to the area, not an environmental threat. But residents are growing more nervous as the project grows.

When the project first came to light last summer, the railroad reluctantly acknowledged it wanted to build two diesel storage tanks with a combined capacity of 1.9 million gallons. In November, the Burlington Northern put the possible third 950,000-gallon tank on the table, according to planning records.

Now, plans detail everything from an additional 27,000-gallon waste oil storage tank to a 3,000-gallon methanol tank and two diesel tanks, each holding 4,000 gallons of fuel for emergency generators. If built, the depot would become the largest fuel storage site in North Idaho.

While the railroad’s application and blueprints call for the largest tanks to hold 1 million gallons each, railroad officials insist each tank will hold 950,000 gallons.

And the project is not growing, the railroad said. “It’s always been 950,000 gallon tanks,” said spokesman Gus Melonas.

The railroad’s neighbors aren’t happy.

“They are being very sneaky about this,” said Marlene Martin, who can look out her living room window to the proposed refueling depot site. She said she has several concerns, among them the fear that people using a nearby shooting range will fire rounds into the fuel tanks.

Her main concern is a fuel spill polluting the Spokane-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer.

“I can’t see how they would clean something like this up,” Martin said. “If they ruin the aquifer, they ruin the water not only for us but for the people in Post Falls and Spokane.”

However, Panhandle Health District, which oversees aquifer protection, said the railroad is doing a top-notch job designing the depot.

“From a technical standpoint, they are doing everything above and beyond what we would require,” said Jeff Lawlor of Panhandle Health. There are extensive spill containment facilities and state-of-the-art tanks.

During a November meeting with residents, Burlington Northern officials said they would use the best technology and most careful inspections to prevent a spill.

That’s no comfort to neighbor Jeanne Phay. “If the people who said the Titanic was unsinkable were alive today, they would be saying 2 million gallons of diesel fuel over the aquifer does not pose a threat.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of proposed locomotive refueling facility area

MEMO: Cut in Spokane edition

These 2 sidebars appeared with the story:

1. PUBLIC HEARING

The Kootenai County Planning Department will hold an April 9 public hearing on the railroad’s application for the refueling depot permits.

2. TANK PLANS

The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad’s proposed locomotive refueling facility would have several tanks containing diesel fuel and other petroleum products. They include:

Three diesel storage tanks, each holding at least 950,000 gallons, each 65 feet in diameter and 40 feet tall. Two will be built this year and will dispense about 5 million gallons of diesel a month. The third tank will be built at an unspecified date in the future.

One 210,000-gallon wastewater storage tank, 36 feet in diameter, 28 feet tall.

One 27,000-gallon waste oil storage tank, 12 feet in diameter, 32 feet tall.

One 20,000-lubricating oil storage tank, 12 feet in diameter, 24 feet tall.

Two 4,000-gallon diesel storage tanks for backup generators, size not yet available.

One 3,000-gallon methanol tank, size not yet available.

Source: Kootenai County Planning Dept.

Cut in Spokane edition

These 2 sidebars appeared with the story:

1. PUBLIC HEARING The Kootenai County Planning Department will hold an April 9 public hearing on the railroad’s application for the refueling depot permits.

2. TANK PLANS The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad’s proposed locomotive refueling facility would have several tanks containing diesel fuel and other petroleum products. They include: Three diesel storage tanks, each holding at least 950,000 gallons, each 65 feet in diameter and 40 feet tall. Two will be built this year and will dispense about 5 million gallons of diesel a month. The third tank will be built at an unspecified date in the future. One 210,000-gallon wastewater storage tank, 36 feet in diameter, 28 feet tall. One 27,000-gallon waste oil storage tank, 12 feet in diameter, 32 feet tall. One 20,000-lubricating oil storage tank, 12 feet in diameter, 24 feet tall. Two 4,000-gallon diesel storage tanks for backup generators, size not yet available. One 3,000-gallon methanol tank, size not yet available. Source: Kootenai County Planning Dept.


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