Monday, May 22, 2017

Eyewitness: XNG Mannheim Facility receiving "Bomb Trucks" from PA

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bill Kitchen 
Date: Sun, May 21, 2017 at 4:42 PM
Subject: Re: INVASION of the Bomb Trucks! Town of Fenton, Broome County!!

I've been following this conversation and, since I leave fairly close to the facility in Manheim, I went out of my way on a couple of trips west recently to check it out. I'm no expert on these matters but will share my observations in hopes that they help clarify some of the issues involved.

There are more than 2 CNG tractor-trailer length trucks arriving and departing from Manheim each hour. My guess is the number is at least double that amount, although I have not parked there for hours at a time and counted.

The trucks arrive, immediately back in and get hooked up to a hose or hoses. The cab disconnects from the trailer, circles around to another area where, I believe, it gets its own tanks refilled with CNG, and then it hooks up to another trailer parked near or next to the one it just delivered, and drives away. Usually the driver comes and goes fairly quickly after spending a little time inside the office building.

I followed trucks as they left and they all take rt. 167 a short distance to 5S, which they take west to Mohawk where they get on 28 south to Richfield Springs. They continue south on 28 alongside Canadaroga Lake, which is as far as I followed them. Based on Kathy Shimberg's observation of constant traffic on rt. 205, it seems logical to surmise that all the trucks travel 28 and 205 with a very short connecting stretch on 80.

I followed the trucks to learn their route and also to try to determine in which directions they were loaded and empty. That was hard to do as they slowed down quite a bit on hills whether they were going north or south. However, I'm pretty sure they arrive at Manheim full and return south empty. With good binoculars I was able to see the pressure gauges with the trailer doors open and the hoses hooked up. The pressure was high when trucks first arrived and much lower after a period of time.

Also I noticed that the undercarriage on the trailers is much more substantial than it is on a normal tractor trailer. One of Bill's links shows that these trailers are very heavy even without a load. That weight, combined with the very long steep climb heading south out of Mohawk, explains why empty trucks were so slow on hills when I followed them.

In the 20 mile stretch that I followed trucks between Manheim and Richfield Springs, I always saw a couple of XNG trucks heading in the opposite direction. The cabs always had XNG on them. Sometimes the trailers did. Occasionally the trailer said Lightstore. Usually the trailers were unlabeled except for the 1971 sign.

When I google "accidents involving trucks carrying compressed natural gas", I don't find a lot. But there was at least one accident that caused an explosion that killed the driver:

I assume that an accident involving one of these trucks could be catastrophic. If so, the route these trucks are following, at least in the area I observed them, is insane. The long downhill, with many steep sections, before entering Mohawk from the south is one of the most dangerous stretches for big trucks that I have ever seen. The first warning sign, at the start of the descent, is four miles away. At two miles there is something I've never seen before: an unmanned but, according to the sign, mandatory pull-off for all trucks, buses and cars with trailers. At the pull-off is a stop sign where drivers are suppose to stop and read a large warning sign about the steep grades in the next two miles and the runaway truck ramp on the steepest stretch just before entering congested Mohawk. The road is curvy with very narrow shoulders. Trucks are in low gears but still pumping their brakes. At the pull-off, drivers are suppose to check their brakes. I saw one XNG driver get out and walk around his truck. The others went through the pull-off, but never stopped or got out of their trucks.

I saw some of these trucks go through yellow lights, not use their directional signals and jump the curb with the trailer wheels when cutting a corner too sharp in Little Falls. One of the drivers had to make 5-6 attempts before he was able to back his trailer into the empty off-loading spot at Manheim. Another driver, who had a long line of cars backed up because he was going so slow climbing the hill south of Mohawk, pulled to the right and drove on the narrow shoulder as if it was a slow-traffic lane.

If all these trucks are indeed carrying loads from Pa to Manheim, as appears to be the case, the only reason they are using the I-88, 205, 80, 28, 167 route is to save time, labor costs and fuel costs. If it is determined that this trucking of CNG in NY is acceptable, the state should, at a minimum, mandate that the route be changed so that it is mostly interstate highways: 81, 481 around Syracuse, and the Thruway to Herkimer. The current route is a disaster waiting to happen, especially, but not only, at the bottom of the hill entering Mohawk. I imagine there are other stretches along 205 that are dangerous, too.

Most of us are against this trucking because it represents a further build-out of fracked gas infrastructure that will lock us into a longer period of fossil fuel use. Hopefully we can stop it or throw roadblocks in its way. But the immediate danger that these trucks pose to others on the highway and the communities that they travel through is very real, too. We have just recently become aware of this situation and most people, including city and town officials, are probably completely in the dark. While we can and should go to local meetings and hope to gain local support, it seems to me that this is an issue that should go directly to Cuomo's doorstep. His worst nightmare is probably to have disaster strike after he's been warned publicly to take action but failed to do so.

My niece will be visiting in a few hours and she should be able to show me how to forward some photos and videos I took on my IPad.

(Bill Kitchen)

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

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