Ethanol Trains Stopped by Governor and Legislature

Governor Deval Patrick signed a transportation bill last week that gave approval to an amendment offered by Senator Anthony Petruccelli that stops train delivery of ethanol through a number of cities and towns, which includes Chelsea.

The train tracks to be used would put homes all along the way at risk, most local leaders believe.

The bill orders that further studies be made of the efficacy of transporting 1.7 million gallons of ethanol by freight train twice weekly through Everett, East Boston, Chelsea, and Revere.

City Manager Jay Ash said he was delighted with the signing of the bill by the governor.

“ Anyone living, working, playing, visiting or driving near a rail-line has had their safety greatly enhanced by the action of our Legislature and endorsement by the governor to require a safety review of ethanol shipments prior to permitting,” Ash said.

“The recent incident in Ohio and the practical considerations of living in this post-911 environment dictate that we take every step possible to ensure that natural, accidental or terrorist incidents involving volatile cargo, like ethanol, have new standards of review.  We can’t risk doing business the same old way, just because it has always been done that way.  We’re a heavily built out environment here in Massachusetts with too many potential targets and other places that could be at risk if and when something goes wrong,” Ash added.

“ This new law will properly ensure that public safety be considered as important as, and I would argue that it is more important than, the convenience of commerce. The people of Massachusetts, most especially those that find themselves around rail-lines, have won a major victory.”

Mayor Dan Rizzo said he was pleased that Petruccelli’s bill passed and that the governor felt strongly enough about public safety issues to make certain that residents here aren’t placed in harm’s way.

“This is all about safety and it is safety first and foremost when it comes to Revere’s residents where I sit,” said the mayor.

City Manager Ash suggested that ethanol deliveries could be made by floating sea barge instead of 60 car freight trains, as desired by Global Fuel, who was planning the ethanol deliveries.

“Delivery by sea with Coast Guard overview is perhaps the best way to go with a dangerous cargo such as this,” said Ash. “Sea borne delivery takes residents out of the mix if something unexpected happened,” he added.

Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria also hailed the governor signing the bill.

“I am extremely pleased the governor has signed this bill – and I am pleased as well that Senator Petruccelli’s amendment passed as part of it. Safety is everything to us in this city. We simply can’t afford a twice-weekly potential of a catastrophe in our city. It is simply too densely populated,” he added.

Legislators representing Chelsea and the other cities also deserve major kudos. Representatives Kathi Anne Reinstein and Gene O’Flaherty advocated for the bill on the House side as did our state Senator Sal DiDomenico.

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