When the sky is black and the air is brisk, the distant sound of a train rolling through town can be heard. But what’s hidden in the rail road cars, passing through the residential city of Everett? At last night’s Everett Common Council meeting, members discussed exactly that.
Global Oil proposed to begin transporting ethanol (a volatile, flammable and odorless liquid that is mixed to make gasoline) by rail to its facility located in Revere. The toxic product is currently delivered by truck and barge.
The shipment of ethanol by rail through Everett as proposed by Global Oil would result in 60 rail cars with a combined capacity of 1.7 million gallons every three to five days, between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
To better untangle the potentially dangerous proposition, Chelsea councilor Brian Hatleberg attended the meeting. “As we thought about this,” Hatleberg said, “many of us came to the conclusion not to pass it….I’m not sure it makes sense to have these quantities of fuel near people. 1.7 million gallons of fuel gas, you sit there and think, ‘I can think of a few things that could go wrong here.’”
“This could be bad chemistry,” agreed Councilor Wayne Matewsky. Should a fire or explosion occur, thousands of people and dozens of businesses could be severely endangered. To call it a public safety threat would be an understatement.
City Solicitor Melissa Murphy said that gaining as much public input as possible would be beneficial to help make a decision on the issue. If the proposal is voted upon favorably, various precautions will need to be taken to ensure the same safety for the city of Everett. Such precautions include training for firefighters, and the employment of more firefighters to be available at the same hours the ethanol-carrying train would pass through Everett.
Members of the council requested that the Fire Chief Murray Gordon appear at the next meeting to speak on the matter regarding Global Oil transporting 1.8 million gallons of ethanol by train, through Everett, Chelsea, Revere and East Boston.