WORCESTER, Mass. ‒ A U.S. District Court judge on Friday continued the town of Grafton's cease-and-desist order against the Grafton & Upton Railroad until the case comes to trial on Jan. 14.
The decision prevents the railroad from moving four 120-foot, 80,000 gallon propane tanks onto its railyard in North Grafton.
Judge Timothy S. Hillman ruled the railroad may continue construction relating to the tracks but not preparation work for the tanks.
Attorney Ginny Sinkel Kremer, of Bowman & Penski, argued that the Town of Grafton was left in the dark on numerous decisions made by Jon Delli Priscoli, the owner of the Grafton & Upton Railroad, and so the town can not agree that the construction is pre-empted from local laws.
She also argued:
- The town was uninformed about the date, route, and time when the first tank was to be delivered.
- That the cease-and-desist order stand until the Surface Transportation Board can rule on the question of pre-emption.
- That the liquid propane tanks are a hazard to a local water supply and the neighbors.
- That storing 320,000 gallons of propane does not "look like transportation".
Attorney John A. Mavricos, of Christopher, Hays, Wojck & Mavricos, argued that the Federal Railway Administration has oversight of the construction, plus federal and state fire marshals.
He also argued:
- That the railroad would never load any propane on site until the tanks passed inspection from the fire marshals.
- That allowing empty tanks to sit on site could not possibly do harm to anyone.
- That the nearby water source would be safe because for propane to stay in liquid form the air temperature must be minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit. "It would have to be a cold day in hell for propane to spill into the water," he said.
- That allowing the injunction to stand until the STB can rule on the case would allow the town to hold "the status quo".
Judge Hillman ordered Mavricos to share documents pertaining to the trial with Kremer so she can build her case in time for the Jan. 14 trial. No time has been set yet.