Storage Tank Debate Fills Up Mobile Council Meeting

The Mobile City Council may be closer to finally passing new regulations for storage tanks along the Mobile River.  After a public hearing today, the council could vote next week

A proposed ordinance would keep new tanks 1,000 feet away from schools, churches, or residential housing. Should a storage operator choose to change what’s stored inside an existing tank, it would have to give notice and get approval from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the EPA.

Some residents and community leaders say they were caught off guard by a grandfather clause.

That would allow existing operators to install new tanks without planning commission approval as long as they build on their own footprint.

“What we’re doing with this agreement is allowing new tanks to be built without public participation in the process without planning commission approval, without the notification because they’ll be grandfather claused in,” said Casi Callaway/ Mobile Bay Keeper Exec. Dir.

“Presently the way the language is written it protects in the grandfathering the current operators in mobile, there is language in there for a new operator to come to Mobile but the city has to protects its community and the current operator,” said Steve Gordon/ Radcliffe Economy Marine General Manager.

Gordon argues there hve been few incidents within the last 30 years he’s been with his company. Th recent exception has been Arc Terminals illegally storing sulfuric acid.

The state docks and the business community supports the ordinance. But not people who live near the tanks.

Another public hearing will be held next week.

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