Residents voice concerns about chemical storage facility

MONTGOMERY — Coastal Chemical Co. officials tried to allay residents’ concerns about locating a chemical storage tank facility in the community Tuesday night.

About 100 people turned out for the public meeting at the Montgomery High School auditorium to ask questions about the operation planned for 107 Miller Ave.

A Site-Specific Installation Permit through the state Department of Environmental Protection is required by the company. A 30-day public comment period for the permit is set to expire Monday.

Many of the questions directed at company officials surrounded fears about chemical spillage from tanks being stored at the former warehouse building located in a potentially flood-prone area of the borough.

Clay Wade, vice president of operations, told the audience that safety is first with the company, not making money.

He outlined the company’s plans calling for nine or 10 12,000-gallon chemical storage tanks to be housed in the facility.

Phase 1 of the operation, he said, will include five tanks holding motor oil and one containing ethylene glycol.

In Phase 2, an additional four tanks will be added to the site, two of which will store methanol, and two with triethylene glycol.

Wade noted that methanol will be the only flammable chemical stored there.

He said all precautions are taken at each of the company’s storage sites to prevent accidents and spills.

He said additional improvements will be made to the Montgomery site, including exterior lighting, addition of a security system and building alarms.

“We understand your concerns,” he told the audience. “We aren’t wanting to come in here and ruin your town.”

One borough resident asked why company officials wanted to locate a facility in Montgomery.

Wade responded that a principal customer of the company is in the area. He noted that Montgomery is 120 to 150 miles from the company’s delivery zones.

In addition, he said an affordable facility was found in the borough.

Other residents expressed concerns about the potential for chemical spills, either within the facility or while being transported by truck.

Wade said while company officials cannot guarantee something won’t happen, every precaution is taken to try and ensure nothing does occur.

Tanks can be monitored from off-site through an alert system.

Two employees, including a truck driver, will initially work out of the site.

Montgomery School District Superintendent Daphne Bowers expressed concerns about the proximity of the site to the high school and elementary schools. She noted students will be walking in the vicinity of the chemical storage site on their way to and from school.

Company officials noted that efforts are under way to work with the local fire department and first responders to prepare for any emergencies.

Other questions surrounded the presence of additional truck traffic in the borough, noise and wear and tear to streets.

The company, one resident said, will have no beneficial impact on the borough.

“This is a done deal,” borough resident Gary Steele said.

He turned to company officials facing the audience and asked if any one of them lived near such a facility. None said they did.

“But we will,” he said before turning and leaving the auditorium.

Public comment on the Site-Specific Installation Permit can be submitted by email to tanks@pa.gov, or by mail to the Bureau of Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields, Division of Storage Tanks, P.O. Box 8762, Harrisburg, Pa. 17105.

A copy of the permit application is available for review at DEP’s Northcentral Regional Office, 208 W. Third St., Williamsport. Appointments can be made by calling 570-327-3636.

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