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Citgo Fuel Storage Approval by Braintree Board Hinges on Fire Training

Citgo will build off the license modification to construct another tank for biodiesel fuel, while not increasing overall capacity in Braintree.

Ethanol and biodiesel fuel storage will officially be sanctioned at the facility on Quincy Avenue in Braintree after the participates in a training exercise there within the next month.

Members of the Board of License Commissioners on Tuesday voted 4-1 in favor of the modification of Citgo's flammable storage license based on that training happening to the satisfaction of Fire Chief Kevin Murphy. Approval came and multiple appearances by Citgo officials in front of the board.

Disagreement has centered around the extent and cost of a training exercise, and the equipment the company has available to assist in fighting ethanol fires, which must be approached differently because ethanol is alcohol-based, unlike petroleum, and poses separate challenges.

Creating further disruption was a lack of communication and training between Citgo and the fire department and other town officials stretching back to previous administrations, Murphy said. For instance, although when ethanol was first stored in Braintree in 2006 the fire chief at the time was notified, that information only recently reached the licensing authority.

Since applying for the license change last November and consulting with town officials, Citgo has purchased nearly $17,000 worth of hose and a pump that can produce different proportions of alcohol-resistant foam of the kind that can battle an ethanol blaze. Petroleum fire, for instance, requires a 3 percent foam mix, while ethanol needs 6 percent.

Chief Murphy and company officials also reached an agreement that Citgo would pay for half the cost of the training, to be held on or before June 5. Murphy estimated that the exercise could cost Braintree as much as $5,000, which he said has been transferred to the department for that purpose.

Board chair Joe Powers voted against Citgo's proposal on Tuesday, saying that it is "absolutely absurd and ludicrous" that Citgo will not cover the full cost of training considering how much it pays regularly to Braintree for licensing and other administrative costs.

"It is troubling to me that we are nickeling-and-diming," Powers said.

Modifying the license sooner rather than later is significant to Citgo, attorney Michael A. Leon said, because the company is planning to build another tank to hold biodiesel fuel and needs the board's permission to store non-petroleum products before moving forward with that project. The board's approval does not change the overall capacity limit of the terminal.

"We will continue to maintain an open dialogue between the fire department and Citgo," Leon said. "It's been a long time coming."

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