Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Biodiesel tank gets vapor waiver

Hailey P&Z calls for tank maintenance plan

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission has voted to remove vapor-reduction requirements on a biodiesel fuel tank that the Blaine County School District plans to install near Wood River High School this summer.

The commission was told Monday that nozzles used to collect vapors from gasoline hoses do not exist for diesel uses because the evaporation rates of diesel fuel do not require use of vapor-reduction devices.

The district board of trustees narrowly approved a controversial plan in March to install a 12,000-gallon biodiesel storage tank at the bus depot on Fox Acres Road in eastern Hailey. The district received a conditional-use permit from the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission last fall, allowing fuel storage at the depot.

One of the many conditions required by the commission was that the tank hoses, and the tanker truck hoses servicing the tank, be fitted with vapor-reduction devices to collect diesel fumes.

The commission voted unanimously to remove both requirements after Norm Hobson, of Dales Service of Boise, spoke on behalf of the school district.

Hobson informed the commission that diesel tanks do not require vapor-reduction devices anywhere in the United States because diesel fuel is "heavy and oilier" than gasoline, and does not produce enough odors to be an issue for nearby residents.

"If you get behind a diesel automobile, it can get stinky, but that is an exhaust issue," Hobson said.

The tank installation, which could take place this summer, was approved over the opposition of some Woodside-area residents who are neighbors of the bus depot near Wood River High School and the district-owned Community Campus.

The commission approved the changes Monday, but required the school district to establish a maintenance plan to ensure that diesel puddles and splashes from the tank hoses do not create a smelly nuisance.

The commission also required the district to provide facts comparing diesel fuel evaporation to gasoline evaporation, and extra holes in the tank in case diesel vapor reduction technologies are developed in the future.

The district has been running its school bus fleet on biodiesel fuel for more than a year, using B20 biodiesel, a combination of 80 percent regular diesel and 20 percent biodiesel, a fuel derived from vegetable oil and animal fats.

The buses currently get fuel at the Chevron station in downtown Hailey, but district Business Manager Mike Chatterton has said the district will save about $12,000 a year in labor and fuel costs by installing the tank at the bus depot. He also said the installation would reduce traffic congestion and exhaust emissions.

Tony Evans:

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