Belvedere Terminals Plans to Build Three Storage Tanks in Ormond, with No Intention to Expand
10.21.2023 By Tank Terminals - NEWS
October 21, 2023 [Observer]- Belvedere Terminals Chief Financial Officer Tim Schwarz also said that Volusia County staff recently approached the company and told them an alternate site may have been located.
For the last two months, a proposed fuel terminal at 874 Hull Road in Ormond Beach has caused residents to voice their anger and frustration to elected officials regarding the plans for the facility, which will be in close proximity to residential communities, the Ormond Beach Municipal Airport and the Ormond Beach Sports Complex.
But Belvedere Terminals Chief Financial Officer Tim Schwarz said that the plans discussed — the 16 tanks with a storage capacity of 20 million gallons of fuel — are not accurate. The facility Belvedere Terminals plans to build in Ormond Beach, he said, would actually consist of three main tanks with about 300,000 barrels of fuel storage on site, or about 12.6 million gallons. The air construction permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection was filed asking for the maximum capacity, Schwarz said.
“We’ve spent a lot of time studying the market, sizing the facility to meet the demand, both now and in the future,” Schwarz said. “So we don’t have any intention of expanding it, and that’s the right size for the location. Three tanks, 300,000 barrels of storage.”
Belvedere Terminals, which is based out of St. Petersburg, has spent between $3 million and $4 million on engineering and design work for the development of the Ormond Beach property, he added. From their perspective, they believe they have been transparent with their plans for the fuel farm, and highlighted the fact the property at 874 Hull Road is zoned for a fuel storage site.
“We followed the rules and are now developing the site and I think people feel like somehow that wasn’t right,” he said. “We never hid anything. We were very transparent with what we did, and so our intention is to continue to — notwithstanding some of the things that we’ve seen, the county resolutions or the city resolutions — we believe we are entitled to build this and we are going to continue to do that.”
Ormond Beach resident Robin Magleora, who has helped organize the citizen opposition to the project along with resident Elena Kraft, said Belvedere Terminals is “currently in PR crisis mode” because the issue has gotten a lot of press attention. Residents are continuing to email county, city and state officials about the issue, she said.
“Our goal is to fight this, and we will continue to work as a group to fight it,” Magleora said.
Kraft said Schwarz makes the reduction in tanks seem significant, but with 13 million gallons of storage, the facility would still be a “massive fuel storage operation.”
“All of the concerns that we had were dismissed,” Kraft said. “They were ignored. It was just very disappointing … they have not engaged with the community at all, like zero engagement, and then they basically came out and said, ‘None of your concerns matter.'”
Ormond property met criteria
Conversations have taken place with county officials where Belvedere Terminals stated it is open to listen to suggestions about alternate sites. The site would need to meet their criteria: It has to be contiguous to the railroad, be of “appropriate” acreage and be zoned for heavy industrial.
“This property met all of those criteria,” Schwarz said. “We have not found another parcel that works for this area. We think the region — Volusia County and Ormond Beach — is ideally suited for this type of business. Leave aside where it’s located, the distance from the ports and the risks and disruption to supply, this would be a great resource for the area, which is why we came here.”
Schwarz said Volusia County staff recently approached the company and told them an alternate site may have been located.
“I don’t know whether it’s viable or not,” Schwarz said. “I don’t know anything about that. I think those conversations are going to be taking place within the next week.”
Belvedere Terminals’ goal is to be operational by 2025. It aims to invest about $750 million in the state as it constructs 10 fuel terminals, with the first sites being in Jacksonville, Ft. Pierce and Ormond Beach.
The Ormond Beach site would add 20 to 30 high-paying jobs to the area, Schwarz said.
Safety concerns at forefront
Schwarz said he understands citizens are concerned with safety, but said that it’s an aspect Belvedere Terminals is also “adamantly focused on” and for which it has plans to implement technology to prevent disasters.
“People talk about older facilities — facilities in the ’80s or built in the ’60s or ’70s that had accidents occur,” Schwarz said. “We’ve got 50 years of experience now in designing these in a much better way that’s much safer.”
Any incidents would be contained on site, he said, citing technology such as a built-in foam suppression system in the tanks and a non-permeable membrane slated for underneath the fuel farm to prevent spills or leaks.
“I think people envision kind of a Hollywood-level explosion and then things extending beyond the site and that’s their worst fear,” Schwarz said. “That isn’t reality. That’s not going to happen. That’s not what would happen with any of these facilities. If a fire were for some reason to occur, all of our suppression systems are designed to immediately kick in and put the fire out.”
Belvedere Terminals may state the company will implement state-of-the-art technology, but accidents occur, Magleora said. Plus, the fuel delivery by rail car and 160 trucks on Hull Road pose safety risks as well, she added.
“It’s not just the terminals themselves,” Magleora said. “It’s the amount of tankers that are going to be on the road. If one was to overturn and it spilled fuel into our waterways, causing environmental disaster. A train derailment coming into Ormond Beach would be an environmental disaster carrying all that fuel for not only Ormond Beach but for Volusia County. So it’s not just the safety of the facility that we have concerns with. It’s with the whole entire operation of the facility.”
Kraft said that with Belvedere Terminals being a new company, it cannot guarantee there are no risks involved with their design. Better safety mechanisms may exist today compared to decades past, she said, but it doesn’t eliminate all of the risks.
“There’s been plenty of examples of accidents that have occurred in other parts of the country with newer facilities,” she said. “Again, things like a lightning strike, how are you going to be able to prevent that? A major hurricane, a fire … You cannot prevent risk from those things fully. So he needs to acknowledge that his operation comes with risks and that’s just a fact.”
Belvedere Terminals is not trying to hide its plans, he said, adding that the company would be willing to hold open meetings if necessary to listen to residents’ concerns and speak about the company’s proposal.
“We want to give people a chance to express their concerns directly to us and engage in a conversation about it,” Schwarz said. “We think once people really understand exactly what it is and the state of the technology that’s being employed and the size of the facility, it’ll go a long way to easing people’s concerns.”
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