By CAITLIN FAULDS / ecoRI News staff
PROVIDENCE – City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) to engage in a full review of a liquid propane gas (LPG) storage expansion requested by Sea 3 Providence LLC.
Sea 3, a subsidiary of New England propane supplier Blackline Midstream LLC, submitted a proposal last March to add six 90,000 gallon storage tanks to its Port of Providence facility. The facility would also connect to a rail branch line at the Port of Providence, opening it up to rail shipments.
In a petition to the EFSB, Sea 3 called the expansion “an insignificant change to a major energy installation”, which therefore should not be subject to a full board review. The board resolution calls on the EFSB to dismiss the petition and demand that the board conduct a full review of the proposed expansion.
Community opposition to the expansion has grown in recent months, with many citing concerns about the impact of fossil fuels on the health of port neighborhoods and the increased potential for LPG accidents in a shared area. by industry and residents.
“Residents of South Providence have historically been overlooked and under-represented in the decision-making process surrounding the state’s most intensive industrial uses,” City Council President Pro Tempore Pedro Espinal wrote in a statement following the December 2 board meeting. “As a community, we have come together in one voice to clearly state that we do not support any expansion or development in the Port of Providence that could result in increased risks to the safety of local residents. I look forward to moving forward with legislation and public advocacy that will uplift our community and preserve our environment. “
With the resolution, city council joins Mayor Jorge Elorza, Attorney General Peter Neronha, dozens of state lawmakers and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management in opposing the expansion petition of Sea 3.
LPG Ordinance Gets Early Approval
An ordinance that would ban the bulk storage of LPG, also known as liquefied petroleum gas, received its first vote at the recent city council meeting with 13 yes votes and three council members absent.
Order 32292, sponsored by Espinal, would amend the city’s zoning ordinances to ban the storage of bulk LPG in all areas of Providence, thereby eliminating the storage of propane products in the Port of Providence.
The ordinance was passed to city council after it was passed unanimously by the ordinances commission last month.
“We are pleased that city council is finally addressing environmental justice and inequality on the South Side,” said David Veliz, director of the Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Reduction Poverty, after the order was passed by the deputy. committee. “We’re just happy to see the system work. “
The ordinance met with opposition from the City Plan Commission, which recommended that LPG storage not be prohibited but rather subject to a special use permit and additional safety and mitigation criteria. pollution, but enjoyed strong community support and hours of testimony in support of its adoption.
“It’s important for our community. We have the opportunity to do something, to do it right, ”said Espinal. “When you talk about public safety, when you talk about public health and the well-being of our community, this order change does just that.”
The ordinance could come into force pending a final vote expected by city council in January.
Coastal development under construction
City Council passed resolution 34518 calling on the Department of Public Works to install sidewalks and lighting and repave the easternmost end of the public street.
In late July, the Coastal Resources Management Council reaffirmed the public street as a public coastal right-of-way after decades of encroachment by private property. It is one of three public access points to the Washington Park and South Providence area, home to 2.5 miles of shoreline.
In September, Save The Bay and the Washington Park Neighborhood Association explored options to make the long-neglected hotspot more attractive and usable for a community that currently experiences one of the state’s worst per capita coastal accesses, according to the advocacy of Save The Bay. coordinator Jed Thorp. Thorp proposed potential plans to convert neighboring lots into open spaces or to increase the pedestrian potential of the waterfront.
“As we know, access to the shore is very important to the people of Providence,” said Espinal, who represents Lower South Providence and Washington Park. “It’s important for my community. “
The resolution will be forwarded to the mayor and to the DPW for further action.