Categories: Byline Stories - NewsMobile appNorthboroughThis Just In

Selectmen accuse National Grid of storing fuel “illegally”

By Chris Kopacko, Contributing Writer

Northborough – National Grid has been storing 12,000 gallons of diesel fuel in the town without permits for almost a year, according to Northborough Fire Chief David Durgin.

During the selectmen's meeting June 10, Durgin expressed his dismay with National Grid's lack of diligence in obtaining proper permits for four above ground fuel tanks located at the company's 55 Bearfoot Rd. location.

“I's somewhat disappointed that we haven's moved any of this process along as far as permitting what has already been installed,” Durgin said to the board. “This is basically an installation that was never approved, never inspected, and none of the paperwork went through the fire department.”

According to Durgin, National Grid had previously held two 1,500 gallon tanks prior to 2008, both of which were permitted by the fire department. After major remodeling during that year however, the company has added two additional tanks, one of 6,000 gallons in 2008 and another of 3,000 gallons in 2012. Neither of these new tanks have been inspected or permitted.

The latest fuel tank addition also places National Grid over 10,000 gallons of fuel in storage, (12,000 total) which exceeds Massachusetts Fire Prevention Regulations and must be approved by the Board of Selectmen.

Durgin said that National Grid officially applied for permits for the new tanks in July of 2012, after both tanks had already been installed.

“We'se here today and we still don's have any information on the tanks, containment, cut sheets, anything like that,” he said. “There's no standing for these tanks to be there or for them to have any product in them right now.”

According to Kris Thebado, the facilities supervisor at 55 Bearfoot Road, the diesel fuel tanks are used specifically for running the facility's emergency generators during power outages.

Selectman Jeff Amberson sought accountability in a line of questioning aimed at Thebado and National Grid Environmental Engineer Joanne Lupa.

“I's like to hear the post mortem on it,” Amberson said. “I haven's heard anything here tonight that says you guys know what you did wrong or what you'se going to do to remedy the situation in the future.”

Thebado had no comment as to why the fuel tanks were installed before obtaining permits. Lupa said she was unable to respond given her recent arrival to the Northborough location.

It was unclear as to why the fuel tanks had been allowed to be installed and utilized for so long without proper permits.

Durgin said that despite the shortcomings, he recommended favorable action by the board to grant National Grid the fuel tank license.

“I believe them to be fire safe, I believe them to be environmentally safe,” he said.

Amberson said he would vote for approval of the license “reluctantly.”

“It sounds like the town is in a tenuous position because as of right now, this whole board has been officially notified that there is 12,000 gallons of fuel that is basically there illegally,” Amberson said. “If something happens there tomorrow, where's the liability? It sits with this board, I think at that stage.”

Selectman Chair Leslie Rutan echoed Amberson's concerns.

“Things that have to do with public safety, I's not interested in having fall through the cracks,” she said. “I would like more than a progress report; I would like some more information about what happened and how your company will ensure this won's happen again.”

The board unanimously approved National Grid's application for a license to exceed 10,000 gallons of fuel storage. Each fuel tank must now pass inspection and receive a permit from the fire department.

" Community Advocate Staff : ."