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Residents raise concerns over new freight-rail facility

Question air quality, land development requirements of Norfolk Southern project

December 15, 2010|By C.J. LOVELACE, Staff Correspondent | Staff Correspondent

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — A start date has not yet been set for construction of a new freight-rail intermodal system in Antrim Township, but residents are encouraging supervisors to take a closer look at its potential effects now.

Two residents spoke at the Antrim Township supervisors regular meeting Tuesday evening, airing concerns about air quality issues and land development requirements of the $95-million Norfolk Southern facility that is projected to be fully operational by 2012.

Robert Wertime of Greencastle said the supervisors do not require land development plans for all developers in the township, which leaves the “door wide open for any big corporation to come in here and basically run over them.”

He believes the 200-acre Norfolk Southern project may set a negative precedent for the future. “What’s your standing going to be when the time comes to go and address things that are wrong?” Wertime asked the supervisors.

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Wertime also questioned the township's stance on sewer issues and hazmat plans for the project.

Brenda McQuait of Greencastle also spoke up, questioning the damage the new facility could cause to the area's air quality. She said the community has a say in local air-quality standards as required by the state U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Environmental Protection.

“We as a community do have the right to establish stronger regulations,” she said. “We can't go weaker, but we can go stronger.”

McQuait urged the supervisors to take a proactive measure in curtailing the possibility of increased air pollution in the area, which could be as simple as planting trees to help offset the carbon monoxide given off from idling diesel engines, she said.

She said tree-planting measures have been used at other Norfolk Southern locations, which leads her to believe it's caused problems in the past.

“It could easily translate into 272 trucks in and out of that area a day, so that is a lot,” McQuait said.

She also said Norfolk Southern has plans to use mechanized cranes to move freight on and off trucks, allowing trucks to move in and out quicker and reduce idling time. This also makes her believe it has been a problem in the past, she said.

As a way to stay proactive with the matter, McQuait asked supervisors to allow her to visit another intermodal terminal to get an idea of how local municipalities are working with Norfolk Southern on air quality issues there.

Officials broke ground last month on the Greencastle rail facility, which could bring up to 4,800 jobs to the area over the next decade, including 126 jobs when it first opens.

It will be within the 500-acre Antrim Commons business park, near the Food Lion and Corningware Glass warehouses off Exit 3 on Interstate 81.

Supervisors said they would address the issues at a later date.

The next regular township meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. inside the Antrim Township Municipal Building.

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