By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter
GRAFTON – Grafton & Upton Railroad Company will pay a $52,000 civil penalty after it allegedly violated federal chemical accident prevention requirements.
The penalty is part of a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to an EPA press release.
“It is important that facilities take all necessary actions to protect local communities by following chemical accident prevention steps,” said Deb Szaro, who is EPA New England’s Acting Regional Administrator.
According to the release, Grafton & Upton opened a new propane transfer terminal at its facility in North Grafton at 42 Westboro Rd. in 2018.
On its website, the rail company said the Liquid Propane Gas Transfer Facility “immediately became a new standard in the industry.”
“Boasting state-of-the-art technologies, quick transfer time and scheduled shipments, the propane facility can fill a demand for propane that has been absent for decades,” the website reads.
The EPA said the facility consists of a railroad siding off the main line and includes storage for propane rail cars, transfer stations, four 80,000-gallon storage tanks and truck loading stations.
A switching yard sits to the south.
“The terminal is located near homes, a school, and other businesses,” the EPA wrote.
The EPA said that the Clean Air Act, which regulates propane, requires facilities that store and deal with specific quantities of extremely hazardous materials to file what’s called a risk management plan with the EPA. That’s in addition to complying with other chemical accident prevention and mitigation requirements.
The risk management plan includes a summary of a company’s accident and mitigation program.
Grafton & Upton allegedly didn’t file a risk management plan before the terminal opened for business.
“An EPA inspection concluded that the terminal generally was well-designed in accordance with industry standards, but EPA did raise additional concerns to ensure protection for the surrounding community,” the release said.
Particularly, EPA expressed concern about whether water cannons would be able to be filled quickly enough if needed in the winter.
In addition to the civil penalty, the company will automate the water delivery for fire suppression in the winter and provide training to emergency responders.