CSX wants to assure area residents that its proposed chemical transfer station in Westborough will be safe, but Southborough Selectman John Rooney last night urged officials to look deeper and do their due diligence on the project.
CSX has set up a website for the project (railwestborough.com), in which they tout their safety record and the benign nature of the material to be handled at the site. Rooney said that raised a red flag for him.
“Until recently BP had an excellent safety record as well,” he said. “The possibility of an accident is real. We can’t take chances with the health and safety of our residents.”
“I assume due diligence is being done by Westborough,” Rooney said. “I hope they do their due diligence and not just read website.”
Rooney said his own research into the project uncovered inconsistencies in some of CSX’s claims, including the type of chemicals that will be handled at the site. He also noted accidents in New York, West Virginia, and other states involving CSX trains carrying similar materials to those that would be handled in Westborough.
Officials from CSX and its subsidiary Transflow, which would operate the facility, have repeated refused to meet with Southborough to discuss their plans.
Rooney acknowledged that Southborough doesn’t have any jurisdiction over the project, but said CSX should still extend the courtesy of meeting with the town since the transfer station will be located so close to our border. “We need to have a plan in place, and unfortunately we’re handcuffed right now.”
Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf said Southborough personnel need to be trained to assist in an emergency at the site. “For as long as I’ve lived in this town, the first town Westborough calls for assistance is Southborough,” she said. “If they’re going to have a hazmat plan for this site, we need to know what it is.”
A handful of residents also attended last night’s board meeting and expressed concern over traffic, emergency response plans, and the potential impact on nearby Cedar Swamp.
Increased truck traffic down Southville Road has been a major concern of area residents, but CSX said in a letter to the town that they do not plan on routing any trucks going to or from the facility through Southborough.
Southborough Town Administrator Jean Kitchen said she has asked Representative Carolyn Dykema to help convince CSX to talk with the town. In the meantime, Phaneuf said Fire Chief John Mauro, Jr. and Town Planner Eric Denoncourt will continue to meet with their counterparts in Westborough to advocate for the town’s interests.
Residents are also invited to attend meetings in Westborough on the project. For any of you interested in doing so, I’ll post details about those meetings as they’re made available.
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