Over the next few months, Citgo will apply for permits in Braintree and at the state level that would allow the company to store non-petroleum fuels such as ethanol at its Quincy Avenue location, and in the near future build new tanks while maintaining the same overall storage maximums.
A request by Citgo for a modification to its Flammable Storage License on Tuesday afternoon in front of the Board of License Commissioners was continued until Feb. 28, allowing Fire Chief Kevin Murphy, a board member, to receive more information on biodiesel fuels and best firefighting practices.
The modification would allow the storage of corn-, animal- and vegetable-based fuel in addition to petroleum, said Michael A. Leon, an attorney for Citgo. Permits for additional tanks to hold the fuel would then be sought from Murphy and various local and state bodies, Leon said, though the company will not exceed its 57,200,000-gallon storage maximum, and would in fact reduce its capacity by 5,000 gallons.
Terminal manager Allen Morris said that the facility "probably never" has that entire amount of fuel allowed stored at any one time. In 2003, the town and Citgo worked together to consolidate the various permits it had acquired over the years, Morris said, but referred during that process only to petroleum-based chemicals.
The additional tanks, along with the updated license language would allow Citgo to keep up with an evolving fuel market, Leon said.
"I understand the need to reflect the difference [on the license]," Murphy said after the meeting, while also reiterating that he will have a better sense of the project and its public safety implications after seminars on biodiesel fuel in Quincy on Wednesday and Boston on Friday.
Citgo has approximately 4,400 gallons of a fire-fighting foam stored on site, along with what Murphy said he believed was another type of foam more suited to combating biodiesel fires in its truck loading area.
The 4,400 gallons is two decades old, as are the two trailers Citgo currently uses for the foam, Morris said. In case of emergency, the foam would need to be transferred to a tank truck or hose would need to be run to the dispensing units attached to one or more of the 22 fuel tanks currently on site.
Morris said accidents requiring foam dispersal are an "infrequent encounter" and that Braintree firefighters are "very capable." Murphy pressed him on the issue, and said the emergency response time seemed like it might be too slow.
"It's hard to maintain a readiness of equipment 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," Morris said.
"We do," Murphy responded.
Morris declined to comment any further after the meeting.
Citgo held four weeks of training for Braintree firefighters last September in anticipation of the change. Beyond modifying the terms of the license, any tank construction or other physical updates would require approval of several oversight bodies, such as the state Department of Environmental Protection and the town's Planning Board.