GRAFTON, Mass.—The Grafton & Upton Railroad was handed two additional cease-and-desist orders Tuesday, one from the Department of Environmental Protection and one from the Department of Fire Services.
Selectman Brook Padgett and Town Administrator Tim McInerney announced the two new orders at Tuesday night’s selectmen meeting. The DEP filing pertains to a violation of the wetland protection act, they said.
The state fire marshal filed the second order because of “inadequate information” in the Grafton & Upton Railroad report filed with the U.S. Fire Administration, McInerney said.
“It’s not to shut down the railroad,” Padgett said Tuesday night. “It’s about the tank operations, any and all work related to construction of above-ground tanks greater than 10,000 gallons.” Railroad owner Jon Delli Priscolli plans to set up a propane transfer station at the Westborough Road site, with four 120-foot tanks, each with a capacity of more than 80,000 gallons.
Last week, the town filed its own cease-and-desist order, saying the railroad did not satisfy its requests on the question of federal pre-emption oversight, that the land being developed is in a residential zoned area, is located in the water supply protection overlay district and that construction has continued with no local permits filed.
The order was filed after Delli Priscoli ignored a request from the Board of Selectmen to postpone delivery of the first of the four supertanks.
A federal court will hear a preliminary injunction Friday afternoon in Worcester to determine whether the tank work can move forward as planned.
Sean Flynn of 65 ½ Waterville St. asked what could happen after that hearing.
The best the town can hope for is that the court will continue the injunction of the tank deliveries, McInerney said. That would buy time until the Surface Transportation Board, the federal agency that regulates railroad operations, can make a decision on whether the Grafton & Upton Railroad is pre-empted from state and local oversight, he said.
But McInerney said the request to the Surface Transportation Board has not been filed because “it is a pretty good amount of paperwork.”
However, the town is also working other angles. When Flynn asked about the sturdiness of the town’s bridges when a 228,000-pound tank crosses them, McInerney said that was “part of the legal strategy.”
“We have a couple of conflicts with state permits,” he said.