Sununu Arranging Meeting on West Lebanon Rail Yard Risks

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/20/2017 11:58:04 PM
Modified: 10/20/2017 11:58:15 PM

Hanover — New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday said he was working to arrange a meeting with state officials about the risk from a propane facility on state-owned land in West Lebanon, but declined to say what he thought they should do.

Lebanon city officials recently became aware that propane-filled train cars waiting at the Westboro Rail Yard, in the heart of West Lebanon, could accidentally explode, endangering up to 258 homes within 1,560 feet of the downtown site.

City officials said the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, which owns the land and leases it to railroad owners who in turn lease to Rymes Propane & Oil, didn’t consult municipal government about safety when installing the energy station in 2010.

Speaking after a Friday event at Dartmouth College with the Hanover and Lebanon-area chambers of commerce, Sununu said he didn’t know enough about the case to comment on what should happen next.

But, having expressed support for local control during the business luncheon, Sununu added that in these situations he generally expected state officials to cooperate with their local counterparts.

“I always encourage them to engage the local government and incorporate their thoughts into the plan,” he said of state officials.

His spokesman, Benjamin Vihstadt, said the governor planned to set up a meeting with the Department of Transportation and was waiting for Lebanon officials to send him information about their needs.

Local leaders publicly have called for a number of changes to the property, which occupies prime real estate along the Connecticut River. Those suggestions have included efforts to redevelop the land or clean it up.

In April, the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Sununu in which it called the rail yard property an “eyesore” and asked for a cleanup. In their reply, Department of Transportation officials said they lacked the funds.

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