By Keith Regan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – A dozen neighbors upset about how Iron Mountain went about expanding its facility on Bearfoot Road pressed the Board of Selectmen March 10 about a plan to expand fuel storage on the property.
Selectmen eventually approved a fuel storage permit to allow Iron Mountain to store 10,300 gallons of diesel fuel on the property at 171-175 Bearfoot Rd.
But the vote came after nearly an hour of discussion, much of it from neighbors on nearby Whitney Street, who expressed concerns about the safety of the fuel tanks–including their proximity to a nearby railroad line–as well as dissatisfaction with extensive tree clearing done on the property as Iron Mountain has expanded.
“They’ve taken down so many trees and built so close to the road that we’re now looking at a huge cement building where there used to be trees,” said Whitney Street resident Tobey Fossey. “Just communicating a plan to the neighbors would helpful at this point.”
Whitney Street resident Debbie Manning said the Iron Mountain expansion took many in the neighborhood by surprise. “We didn’t know they were expanding until all the trees came down,” she said. “I don’t understand why they all had to come down.’
Other neighbors asked about spill containment and other safety procedures and pressed officials on what the impact of an explosion would be.
Fire Chief David M. Durgin noted that the 4,000-gallon tanks in two new generators are double-lined and equipped with alarms to notify operators of a spill or an overflow during filling.
Cliff Migneault, who will manage the new data center on the site, said the two standby generators will be used only in the event of a power outage and that only one would be operated at a time.
“This is about as routine on generators as you can get,” said Town Administrator John Coderre, who offered to act as a liaison between neighbors and the company to help address screening concerns. “My sense is that Iron Mountain wants to be a good corporate neighbor and will work with the residents to see if there are things that can be done to improve screening. They don’t want to be fighting with the neighbors if they can ease their impact by adding some screening, I think they’d be receptive to that.”
Selectmen noted that the plan for the generators and the associated fuel storage had already been vetted by the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Conservation Commission and the Groundwater Advisory Committee, and that the Iron Mountain only needed to appear at a public hearing because they will be storing 300 gallons more fuel on the property than the 10,000 gallons allowed without a vote of the board.