Nitrogen Tank Proposed on Crescent Avenue

A planned expansion of Muffin Town’s freezer space at the company’s factory on Crescent Avenue has been scrapped in favor of adding a large, outdoor liquid nitrogen tank.

The plan became public late last week when a submission from Muffin Town came to the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals for its March 13th meeting.

The company – which has long done business in Chelsea and is owned by a Winthrop man – received approval late last year to expand their freezer capacity and reconfigure some parking spots.

Now, though, Muffin Town is asking that the freezer expansion plan be scrapped and instead, they are proposing to build a 20′ x 20′ concrete pad that would hold a large, outdoor storage tank containing liquid nitrogen.

ZBA officials said that the tank would be at least as tall as the Muffin Town building, but they haven’t yet looked at specific dimensions.

Liquid Nitrogen is a hazardous material, and under pressure it does have the possibility of exploding. However, the switch could be a positive for the neighborhood as Muffin Town now uses the much more harsh chemical, ammonia, to power its refrigeration system.

Ammonia can cause problems in the air for surrounding areas if there is a spill or a leak. Liquid nitrogen dissipates rather quickly and harmlessly into the air within around 30 minutes if it is released.

Preliminary plans for the new tank indicate that Muffin Town would be discontinuing its use of ammonia in favor of the liquid nitrogen. So, the change could be seen as a plus for the surrounding neighborhood.

“They do want to replace the ammonia with liquid nitrogen, which is not caustic like ammonia is,” said John DePriest of the City’s Planning Department.

However, DePriest said they would not be looking at that aspect, but only at what the modification would mean to the zoning code.

Industrial uses on Crescent Avenue were, for a long time, not very controversial or of concern. However, since many new lofts, apartments and condominiums have gone up on Spencer, Crescent and Webster Avenue – more scrutiny has been paid to the district as it is much more residential than in the past.

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