GRAFTON, Mass.— The question of when the first of four giant propane tanks will be delivered to the Grafton & Upton Railroad remained uncertain Thursday afternoon after the town's request for a restraining order against further construction was sent to federal court.
Worcester Superior Court had issued a temporary restraining order on behalf of the town of Grafton against the Grafton & Upton Railroad, prohibiting the Thursday delivery of a 120 foot long propane tank. The town on Wednesday issued a cease and desist order to the railroad to halt the construction of a propane storage facility at the North Grafton depot, an order which was ignored, the town said.
The case was scheduled for a hearing at Worcester Superior Court Thursday afternoon but Assistant Town Administrator Kevin Mizikar, Building Inspector Robert Berger and Police Chief Normand Crepeau, Jr. said they were surprised to discover on arrival that it had been moved to the federal level. Railroads fall under federal oversight.
"We believe it's a state issue, since we're just talking about enforcement of the cease and desist," Mizikar said.
The status of the case in federal court -- and whether delivery of the tank will be allowed to proceed -- remained in question Thursday afternoon.
According to the Fall River Herald News, the four tanks, which they report as 120 feet long and 34 feet in circumference, are still sitting on a New England Gas Company site in Fall River.
They also report that the propane tanks have been stored on the gas company’s land for 50 years, but have been unused for the last six due to an increase of natural gas consumption and warmer winters.
LPG Ventures, based in Raytown, Missouri, were hired by the Grafton & Upton Railroad to haul the tanks. The company handled burning off any remaining propane in July.
The tank scheduled Thursday was the first of four to be delivered to the propane transfer site. The others are still scheduled to be delivered on Dec.18, 19 and 20 accompanied by a state police escort, which is mandated by state law. Whether that will still happen will be determined by the court.
The Herald News also reported that the tank is attached to multiple trailer dollies. The tractor has 40 wheels, including three sections of a dozen each.
On Wednesday morning, the town of Grafton issued a cease-and-desist order of final delivery of the tank to the Westborough Road site, saying that federal preemption of railroad business has not been proven.
"We are in litigation with the town and have no further comment," Jon Delli Priscoli, the owner of the Grafton & Upton Railroad said Thursday morning.