Sea-3, Inc.’s Expansion Proposal Under Review

White oil storage tanks

Transportation and storage company Sea-3, Inc. is trying to expand its operations at its Newington, New Hampshire plant.

Seacoastonline.com reports that New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee has already granted the company an exemption from a 12-month review of its previous expansion project in the late 1990s, and the company is hopeful the committee will do the same for its proposed project, which was approved by the Newington Planning Board last year.

Paul Bogan, Vice President of Operations for Sea-3, Inc.’s Newington plant, said that the 1990s expansion, which included a refrigerated storage tank unit, added 160,000 barrels (6.72 million gallons) in storage capacity, increasing the plant’s total capacity by 40%.

In contrast, the current proposal would add 270,000 gallons of storage capacity, a relatively modest increase of 1.1%.

A hearing will be held on October 14th to determine if the proposal can be exempt from the compulsory year-long review.

Specifically, the new expansion will include five rail unloading berths, three 90,000-gallon above ground storage tanks, a condenser and condenser cooling unit a dryer and heater, a mechanical building, refrigeration equipment, and pipelines.

Although Sea-3, Inc. used to receive a majority of its propane from overseas, recent trends in the propane market have made domestic propane production much cheaper, leading to a demand for rail transport and consequently necessitating the company’s proposed expansion.

Alec McEachern, an attorney who represents Sea-3, Inc., says the expansion will benefit the region as well as the industry.

“The presence of a primary storage tank facility in New Hampshire allows propane to be refrigerated, stockpiled and released during peak-demand, cold-weather months, thereby stabilizing the local propane market and securing a critical energy supply for the state and region,” McEachern said.

However, not everyone is on board with the proposal. The state Attorney General’s Office, the city of Portsmouth, and other local residents oppose the plan, considering the plan to be dangerous. The Pan Am Railway tracks the trains would inevitably use are in disrepair, leading many to believe the expansion could lead to a serious accident. Portsmouth officials are demanding that a comprehensive study of the proposal’s safety be conducted.

One of the expansion’s features, the above ground storage tanks, already fall under strict guidelines. These tanks, for example, must have a secondary containment area capable of holding 100% of the tank’s contents in case of spillage or leaks.

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