A Montana Rail Link fuel depot under construction near Park City has neighbors concerned about water contamination and increased truck traffic.
The eight-acre depot, designed to fill fuel trucks from parked rail cars loaded with diesel, is located to the west of Park City along Highway 10 beside a wetland and the Yellowstone River.
The entire area rests atop a gravel bed that water flows through easily, said Clair Killebrew, a neighbor to the project. She’s worried that any fuel from the depot will quickly spread through the area if it percolates into the gravel.
“There are homes in the area. I know they’re not considering this a residential area because it’s in the country, but there are four homes,” said Killebrew.
Neighbors became aware of the project only recently when heavy machinery showed up on the site, which was once used for loading traction gravel onto winter road plows, Killebrew said.
There’s minimal permitting for a fuel depot. The Department of Environmental Quality reviews the project for storm water control, essentially making sure the water draining off the paved or concrete surfaces is being controlled.
Additionally, Rail Link is working with the local volunteer fire department and the Stillwater County Disaster and Emergency Services on how to respond to the depot if there’s a fire.
Rail tanker fires and the ability of local fire departments to manage them have received increased attention even since the oil trains began shipping crude from the Bakken and Alberta Tar Sands.
MRL spokesperson Ross Lane said the fuel site is large enough to accommodate eight rail cars loaded with fuel and semi trucks driving up to the site to have tank trailers loaded with fuel. There will be scaffolding over the cars so crews can unload the fuel onto the trucks. The site will be illuminated.
“We don’t expect to see more than 24 trucks per day, and that would be at full operating capacity,” Lane said. “We’re looking at opening the facility late summer or early fall.”
The Park City depot will be similar to a tank farm built near Logan in 2007, Lane said. That facility is operated by CHS. Rail Link is building the Park City site for a customer, Lane said, but he declined to identify who would be using it.