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Citgo Proposes Biodiesel Tank Construction

The Braintree Planning Board continued Citgo's request for construction of a 270,000-gallon tank until its November meeting.

Under a proposal before the Planning Board, would build a new steel tank at its Quincy Avenue terminal in Braintree to hold biodiesel fuel.

Citgo would use the tank to store the animal- and vegetable-based fuel before mixing it directly into trucks along with diesel and heating oil, rather than its current practice of mixing biodiesel within existing, larger tanks and then moving the mixture to the trucks.

Planning Board members voted to continue the request until Nov. 13 while they examine the proposed site plan and confirm with fire officials that Citgo has adequate safeguards on site.

The need to mix biodiesel with other fuels stems from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirement enacted in 2007, project engineer David Crispin said. Following that development, Citgo has been striving to hit an approximately 5 percent blend, which terminal manager Allen Morris said will be easier to achieve with the dedicated biodiesel tank.

Citgo's total fuel capacity at the terminal of 57 million gallons would not change under the proposal, Crispin said. He added that the new tank would hold 269,640 gallons – less than 1 percent of the facility's capacity. In 2008, Citgo removed three relatively small tanks near the water. This tank would hold less than those combined and be located closer to Quincy Avenue behind a building near where the trucks pull-up.

"It's going to be very difficult to see this tank from any abutting properties," Crispin said.

Earlier this year, so that it includes non-petroleum based fuels like biodiesel and ethanol. That process took place over several months and a number of meetings before the Board of License Commissioners. Eventually the fire department held a training exercise at the Citgo site and Chief Kevin Murphy signed off on the license modification.

Disagreement centered around the extent and cost of the 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.

Since applying for the license change, Citgo 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.

Biodiesel, on the other hand, is a much less dangerous fuel, Citgo attorney Michael A. Leon said Tuesday night during the hearing at . It has a flashpoint more than 100 degrees higher than diesel fuel, Morris said, and is comparable to cooking oil.

"It's a fairly benign material," Leon said.

Still, planning officials said they would like to hear more from the fire department, in particular about possible concerns over a "heating element" that is necessary to keep biodiesel warm. They also asked about the direction of pipes related to the new tank and backup plans in case the fuel is contaminated.

Citgo before the Planning Board to perform maintenance and modify its pier structure.

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