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Railroad Activity Uninterrupted While Awaiting Propane Ruling

The Grafton Upton Railroad's every day operations continue on despite it being slapped with an order to halt delivery of propane tanks as part of the railroad's plan to construct a propane transfer station in Grafton.

In December, Grafton town officials served the railroad with a cease-and-desist order that has halted the propane project at the railroad's Westboro Road location in town. In January, the two sides went before U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Hillman to state their cases.

The Grafton Board of Selectmen claim the transfer station violates zoning laws and because they maintain a second company is involved in the propane operations, the railroad does not have federal pre-emption.

The railroad's plans are to have propane brought into the Grafton site by the CSX railroad, transloaded, and delivered off site for wholesale. Lawyers for the Grafton Upton Railroad argue that the railroad will oversee and control the propane operations and has pre-emptive status over state and local regulations. Arguments were concluded on January 18 and the decision is now in the hands of the judge.

One Upton resident, who wished to remain anonymous, applauded the Grafton Board of Selectmen for fighting the propane transfer station. "Grafton's Board of Selectmen has clearly realized the imminent danger posed by Mr. Delli Priscoli's company storing large amounts of hazardous chemicals near homes and businesses. In Upton, we have a similar problem, with millions of gallons of explosive and toxic chemicals within half a mile of schools and nursing homes. But our Board of Selectmen has delayed action and in doing so, has exposed the whole town to potential disaster. Grafton isn't waiting for the federal government's permission to protect its own residents." After multiple legal discussions with its Town Counsel and hearing the findings of a Railroad Fact Finding Committee, the Upton Board of Selectmen voted not to appeal to the Surface Transportation Board to declare if the Grafton Upton Railroad and its activities were pre-empted from state and local regulations in town.

In his first interview since the propane trial ended, Delli Priscoli said even with the cease and desist order in place, all railroad activity continues on as usual and has not been interrupted. "The judge did not stop any railroad activity," he said.

When asked if he had any plans to construct a propane station in Upton or any other communities the railroad runs through Delli Priscoli stated firmly, "The answer is no." He explained the only logical and safest location for the propane transfer station is in Grafton, near the CSX rail line, which is less than 100 yards away. Delli Priscoli stated the railroad has put in place more safety measures for the transfer station than is required. "Our safeguards exceed what are expected," he said.

Delli Priscoli believes the Grafton propane station is a very important facility as the country attempts to move toward independence from the Middle East for oil with its own drilling programs."Propane is all a part of that," he said. "Domestically produced oil is 40 percent cheaper."

Despite a number of residents' misgivings about the railroad and its activities, Delli Priscoli says he's always tried to be a good corporate neighbor and maintains that the railroad has been very approachable, saying, "I'll speak to anyone who has issues."


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