Judge Upholds Order Against Grafton & Upton Railroad

  • Comments (17)
The Grafton & Upton Railroad crosses North Street.
The Grafton & Upton Railroad crosses North Street. Photo Credit: Jennifer Lord Paluzzi (file photo)

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. 

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Comments (17)

sounds like we have quite a few NIMBYS. Get a life everyone. Railroads are much safer and more efficient at transporting hazardous materials than trucks. I'm sure with some oversight this operation will be much safer than sending the gas through town in trucks.

They ARE sending the gas through town in trucks! The only involvement the railroad has is when CSX delivers it to the storage tanks.

So where do you think the term "We're being railroaded" originated.

just love censorship

just love censorship

Let's be honest, the town is doing this because he didn't kowtow to the small people on the all powerful POS, and didn't allow Berger to harass him on the construction.

Assuming Delli prevails, who is going to pay the bill for this charade? Us

Ishmeal...very very good, and yes us. The longer it goes the more he will, and then he will civil suit the clowns and most likley win.

As for Bergermeister cut him some slack, please, he has been very very busy with back yard chickens, and the occasional lawsuit to to oust the seventh chicken from town.

oh yeah
michael b is a clown

All of Grafton will pay and it is certainly not a charade! When the smoke rises, the fire truck rolls - and whether you deny it or not there is most definitely smoke (as evident in the Fed court ruling this week to proceed with this case). Only through this act of the town and its legal maneuvers will we honestly & completely know where things stand. If its just smoke, then so be it - pass the crow around to your least favorite town officials and they can all take a bite. BUT for the sake of our neighbors in this area of town and the long term impact it has on our whole community please just ... chill out and keep your GURR bumper sticker to yourself. You can tell us you told us so later.

'this guy is at BOS meetings quite often'...intriguing, cute, and certainly quite subjective,not to mention probably not admissible, or relevant, or important in a federal court case pertaining to pre-emption. I'm sure you know this given you seem to be up to date on the sequence of events.

Ok I will slow down for you...this probably isn't the first time the BOS heard of the tanks, propane, etc... Delli Priscoli has been talking about these things for sometime, and some selectmen have gone to Upton's meetings to see how things were handled there (pellet fuel or what ever that case was). The bottom line is the guy bought a railroad not a model train and he wants to make money and anyone who thought "oh how cute little Jon bought a railroad to play with" is just plain dumb.

It is simple to stay up to date just read the paper Mikey, this one, the T-G, or many others.

ps oh yeah...michael b is a clown

Hi Wanda, I recognize your concern over the quantity of storage, but the reality is, the South Coast facility had the same volume, so this is not an exceptional case. And by definition propane is "stored" in containers throughout its commercial life except when burned, so these containers are by definition necessary for propane transportation.
In my minds eye, the town needs additional safety reasons above and beyond what the town's attorney presented yesterday, if the town really wants to stop this project.

A full, comprehensive safety & security plan....I want to see one, I want to read one, I want to be provided with one....I want it to be reviewed by our Department of Homeland Security...It is only right that we have one to ensure and feel comfortable about OUR investments, whether it be our homes, our fellow neighbors, our town buildings and our children. I would also like it to include responsible parties if the SAFETY PLAN is not followed by the Railroad/Owners and recourse is necessary in light of a unexpected tragedy. This people, is the world we live in.

Like a parade, certainly ground transportation of these tanks over our streets and bridges is a safety concern and needs review. But I think the rest of the town's case is lighter than propane.

The concern is once propane is released in liquid form, it expands due to the warmer air/ground conditions and becomes gaseous.


Propane is non-toxic, non-caustic and will not create an environmental hazard if released as a liquid or vapor into water or soil. If spilled in large quantity, the only environmental damage that may occur is freezing any organism or plant life in the immediate area. There are no long term effects following a propane spill even if the quantities are excessively large. The only damage and potential danger exists if the vapor is ignited following a spill. And even then, there are no long term effects of ignited propane that can be damaging to the environment. Propane liquid and vapor are environmentally sound and friendly in their unused states (prior to combustion) if released.

From the site, http://www.propane101.com/propanegreenenergyfuel.htm

Thanks for your time...

Whatever... haha

Truth, your assumption is that there will be no other tankers of other chemicals such as Benzene and other solvents in the proposed rail yard. Maybe this assumption is correct but I have not seen the plans or understand if there are restrictions on what can be near the propane tanks.

The only long term effects of the ignition of that quantity of propane would be the devastation of nearby homes, library, school, and park. Storage of propane in that quantity is not transportation. And if he is not going to fill the tanks, what is his hurry!