A New Home?

Diesel fuel storage station stinks, neighbors say


Continuing growth in Boise and possible terrorism concerns are prompting city leaders to contemplate relocating the fuel storage complex on Curtis Road to another location near the airport. The tank farm--technically known as a transfer station--stores bulk gasoline piped in from Salt Lake City. Sinclair Oil, Chevron, Franklin Oil and Tesoro all operate terminals at the station. The relocation concept is under consideration due to the complex's proximity to West Junior High School, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, and Life Care Center of Boise, a nursing home.

Boise Mayor David Bieter addressed the issue during his Saturday open office hours on June 3. Retired teacher Phyllis Burda met with the mayor and raised her concerns about the site's proximity to the school and the hospital. Bieter assured her that the city was holding preliminary discussions about relocating the complex, adding that he considered the tank farm a possible terrorism risk.

To pay for the expensive operation, Bieter said he was considering federal Homeland Security grants as a possible funding source.

Burda later said she was prompted to speak with the mayor because city growth in recent decades has transformed the area into an inappropriate location for mass fuel storage and the resulting gas tanker traffic.

"It seems that that's a dangerous thing to have in the middle of town, now that a school and a hospital and a nursing home have been built around it," Burda said. "Not to mention the residences."

Bieter's spokesperson, Michael Zuzel, declined to provide more information about relocation efforts, stating in an e-mail, that "This is not a story we can discuss at this time."

City Council member Elaine Clegg was more forthcoming.

Clegg said she first raised the issue with the mayor shortly after she took office in 2003. Bieter agreed to have the city planning department examine the feasibility of relocation. But Clegg hastened to add that discussion is still in a preliminary stage.

"There's conversation about, 'Would it be a good thing? And how can we accomplish it?'" Clegg said.

Clegg, who attended West Jr. High, said she remembered fumes prompting concern about exposure while she was a student, a fear confirmed by Burda.

"Some of the rooms did get the fumes," Burda said. "After I was gone, they built some wells to extract any gas that seeped into the ground."

Possible relocation sites are limited by the transfer station's infrastructure needs.

Clegg said any future site would require access to the freeway, railroad and the pipeline, which originates in Salt Lake City. A location near the airport would provide all three. Clegg also hinted that relocating the tank farm would allow Valley Regional Transit to acquire nearby railroad tracks, providing a future mass-transit rail route to downtown.

However, she said a move isn't imminent.

"We would love to do it, but it's not going to happen anytime in the future you can spit at."