South Portland rail yard sought for LPG terminal

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Rigby Yard could become the site of a liquid petroleum gas storage facility to serve Maine and much of southern New England. 

NGL Supply Terminal Co., a subsidiary of Tulsa, Oklahoma-based NGL Energy Partners LP, is proposing the facility, which would be constructed on top of what was once the railway turntable in the area between Main Street and Rumery Street. The rail yard is in a Non-Residential Industrial District.

The company presented the proposal to the Planning Board Tuesday night. The most common form of LPG is propane, which is used for heating and fuel.

The project proposal includes installation of six, 60,000-gallon above-ground storage tanks, each 13 feet in diameter; an eight-spot rail car off-loading area on four parallel rails; an 1,800-square-foot operations building, and a paved loop that would allow access for vehicles transporting petroleum by truck, all contained and visually obstructed by an 8-foot-tall fence.

NGL Supply Terminal Co. now distributes gas liquids from a four-acre terminal on Commercial Street in Portland, west of the Casco Bay Bridge. Rigby Yard, at 20 Rigby Road, would more than double the size of the company’s operations, to 10 acres of space, leased from Pan Am Railways, with room for 24 rail cars.

The proposed configuration would allow for a “much more controlled” transfer of liquid petroleum, Community Planner Steve Puleo told the Planning Board, and is viewed by the South Portland Fire Department as safer than the existing arrangement in Portland.

John Fansher, director of operations for NGL, said he doesn’t anticipate much noise. The activity likely to create the most noise – the rearranging of rail cars – will only happen once a day, he said.

“We have about 24 terminals from coast to coast now, and I can’t say noise has been a complaint,” Fansher said.

There may even be a decline in the noise level when compared with what can be heard today, where there can be up to 60 cars in the yard at a time, Puleo said.

If the project is approved, the facility will also have to adhere to a noise ordinance, Planning and Development Director Tex Haeuser added.

“Does it smell bad?” asked board member Caroline Hendry.

“It smells like gas,” Fansher replied.

Construction would likely take six to eight months, and could begin in late summer.

A revised site plan is expected to be presented to the board in mid-March.

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or aacquisto@theforecaster.net. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA.

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South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.