October 28, 2019 [Oil & Gas 360] – The city is selling a portion of Waterfront Street to a motor oil recycling company that says it will consolidate operations here, clean up the site and cut truck traffic by adding rail spurs.
And all with the blessing of environmentalists.
Safety-Kleen, a subsidiary of Clean Harbors, has owned the site at 120 Forbes Ave. since 2016, although there has been a motor oil recycling operation here since 2001 as part of a larger historic use of the area in the harbor for oil tank farms going back 100 years.
The sale of a 54,000-square-foot portion of Waterfront Street for $100,000 to the company to enhance the rail connection is up for approval by the Board of Alders.
The City Plan Commission has given site plan approval and the special permit needed for expansion of the existing used oil transfer station where eight storage tanks will be added, an existing truck pad will be reconstructed and two rail spurs installed.
Laura Cahn, chairwoman of the New Haven Environmental Advisory Council, said Safety Kleen answered all its questions and supplied anything the council asked for.
“We commend Safety-Kleen Systems on their plans to reduce truck traffic in our city and substitute much more energy efficient rail for transporting used motor oil to re-refining plants and for encouraging their employees to commute by bicycle,” Cahn said.
The New Haven Port Authority has approved the project and encourages use of the Providence and Wooster rail line located there, a unique intermodal industrial property. There also will be an easement for waterfront access and the state Department of Transportation has approved the rail spur configuration.
The 1.7-acre project site now is occupied by 10 above-ground storage tanks protected by a spill containment berm, a two-story brick office building, distribution piping, the truck loading and off-loading facility, and a dock extending into the Quinnipiac River.
The site is bounded by the river to the north, Magellan Midstream Partners tank farm to the east, Forbes Avenue to the southwest and the Interstate 95 bridge to the west.
The eight new tanks will hold 2.8 million gallons of used oil for a total of 5.4 million gallons on site.
The oil can come in by barge, where it is then transferred to the tanks. It soon will be able to be shipped by rail in New Haven rather than trucked to a rail connection in North Haven. The ultimate destination is a refining plant in Ontario, Canada.
Safety-Kleen plans to bring much of the collection it now does at the Bridgeport Terminal to New Haven and possibly add 20 jobs here.
Clean Harbors is the largest collector, recycler and re-refining firm for used oil in North America.
Bryan Girts, vice president for real estate at Clean Harbors, said they alreadyhave taken out contaminated soil and no reportable safety events have occurred in New Haven since they have owned the property.
He said the goal at its facility in New Haven is to improve the infrastructure and make the operation more efficient, while also creating an area for its emergency response team that is currently located in Seymour.
“This way it will be closer to any types of spills that might go on in this immediate area, especially the river. We feel that will be a real benefit,” Girts said.
An engineer from BL Companies said there will be two rail spurs added and two loading platforms that will enable transferring oil to four rail cars, which will decrease the number of truck transfers. The eight new tanks, each with approximately 170,000 gallons of storage, will be constructed inside the containment area.
Christopher Guzzi, who heads marketing and sales for the Providence and Wooster rail company, said they have found Safety-Kleen to be a “solid and reliable partner.” He said they have been working on this project with the state DOT and Safety-Kleen for some two years.
“The P feels adding rail infrastructure to the site is a win-win for both Safety-Kleen and P in that it will enable us both to grow our business in a safe and efficient manner and at the same time we feel it is a big win for the city of New Haven as the new railroad facility will convert approximately 1,500 annual truck trips to rail,” Guzzi said.
Hugh Manke, the attorney for the project, said there is no public access, given regulations from Homeland Security, which are enforced through the Coast Guard.
Cahn said she hoped they would start a series of meetings with the neighbors so they can understand how their business impacts the area and enter into a community benefits agreement with the mayor in which they will promise participation in education and other sustainability initiatives.
Cahn then looked far into the future.
“We hope Safety-Kleen Systems ultimate plan is not to have us use any motor oil, but to look forward decades into the future to when we won’t need motor oil collection facilities. … We need to be making plans not just for the next 20 years, not even for just the next 50 years, but for longer,” Cahn said. “We like their ideas. We hope we can have a dialogue in the future and keep it going.”
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