Grafton & Upton Railroad Gets Two More Cease-And-Desist Orders

  • Comments (20)
Dennis and Sean Flynn are two  North Grafton residents who attended Tuesday night's selectmen meeting, where the cease-and-desist orders against the Grafton & Upton Railroad were discussed.
Dennis and Sean Flynn are two North Grafton residents who attended Tuesday night's selectmen meeting, where the cease-and-desist orders against the Grafton & Upton Railroad were discussed. Photo Credit: Richard Price

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.

  • 20

Comments (20)

they look like the same NIMBYs (not in my backyard) who stopped progress on a local rail trail!

they look like the same NIMBYs (not in my backyard) who stopped progress on a local rail trail!

Cheerful lookin' bunch, aren't they?

It's Wednesday, so why is work still taking place? Delli Priscoli is one arrogant businessman.

Hey there stoplpg, as I have been driving by the site the past few days I noticed the guys working on the walkway and where the pipes are have been gone. The site work and potential track work I dont believe is relavent. Unless I am mistaken.

And for the comments I have read in other articles about this being done around town water supply, you people do realize that propane has no effects on water right...? And if this has to do with contaminants of any kind we better look both down and upstream.

Why is it that some people only care about certain things when it pertains to them?

Major kudos to the folks who live in the area. They saw problems, then proceeded to work with our town reps and Sen Moore to get the right authorities engaged in this case. Their persistence has been crucial to getting the wheels to start turning.

Local zoning is a primary focus of the Federal preemption. Washington says the national rail transportation system is more important than local priorities. They say if local control was allowed railroads would have issues like this anywhere they tried to locate.

Really, in the end it comes down to just how far the pre-emotions reach.

Re: Wetlands, supposedly there was a stream on the property that was filled in or altered ? The Town of Grafton's assessor's maps also show the property as zoned residential ?

FWIW, the propane facility over in Marlboro has security measures in place, along with extensive fencing and warning signs, and that facility is not much bigger than an acre or two, and is in an industrial zoned area. The size of the proposed Grafton facility dwarfs it.

IMHO, the G&U tried to sneak this one under the radar before anyone would notice....


This whole concept is insane. The scope of this bulk storage facility and operations within the proximity to schools, parks, residential homes and other populated areas is a gross and malicious disregard for life. Plus, these tanks are 60 years old. If there was ever an accident - and oversight will not necessarily prevent human error or malintent, as we've seen at Suttles, a de-railing, gas explosions and other incidents - the damage and loss of life would be immense. What experience in bulk terminal facilities does this company even have? That this discussion even needs to be had, and this project is even being contemplated, is unbelievable. This will destroy local property values as people flee the area. I would make a petition to move the NGES and may withhold my kids from school. If this moves forward and nothing is done, I will certainly move.

Hey Ad....Delli has plenty of experience.....he ran a marina, he was a classic car restorer....built over 55 housing all over Marlborough & Hudson...tried his hand at Edaville RR, tried to make a go of some industrial buildings on South Street in Marlborough with his Franchi friends....oh yes, and tried to buy the old Police station on Main Street in Marlborough....go to Bill Galvin's can see all his shenanigans...Google is a wonder.....what more experience do you need to run a dangerous operation in a neighborhood with a school and bio-lab?

The selectmen have control of town owned roads. Perhaps it would be possible to put a weight limit on Westboro Road to prevent heavy tank trucks from destroying the roadway.

It sounds queer that the town is working so hard to get the r.r. to file for local permits, but has not taken the time themselves to file appropriately with the fed's Surface Transportation Board, "because it's a lot of paperwork".
This project was known about since at least last Spring, thus I would have assumed that the town would have already been working with all appropriate authorities. Not working with the feds seems insane.

ALamp, it is my understanding that the railroad did not give any details of the plan last Spring. You cannot fill out paperwork if you do not know what is going on. They did not even know about the work until the neighbors brought it to their attention. Correct me if I am wrong here.

re: I knew about the propane farm last Spring and so did many others. But you are right, the details were probably not known about until recently.

True, but now that they have a better idea on this, and since they opened up a fairly significant can of worms, it should be a priority for the town to get all paperwork, despite how much there may be, filled out and submitted...the town needs to keep any upper hand it can with this, because the other side will seek out any loophole it can to move ahead.

Do your job, McI

I would like to know what security plans will be in place once these tanks are filled. Not to be morbid, but these tanks could be a potential draw for someone intent on harming others....will there be security cameras monitored 24/7 or will there be a human security detail? Does Delli even HAVE to have security for these for sitting bulls-eyes? I hope the Federal court has an outreach with Homeland security to consult on the proposed hazard Delli's little gas garden poses to the bio-lab, school & residents.

Yeah, remember a couple years ago when there was an arsonist on the loose in the area? They caught him torching some construction equipment over on Rte. 20... So, something like this needs to have good security.

I think you bring up a significant point. Assuming that things get ironed out, G&U gets the thumbs up to move forward with this. What is the plan for security around the tanks? Are talking 24/7 security detail on site, or are we talking a metal fence with a padlock? If it comes up, it needs to be pointed out that this space is not on a main road, so there isn't a whole lot of regular traffic, and anyone driving by may not notice anyone on site doing something they weren't supposed to do.