Trust the wolf at the door?

I suspect I am like so many of us, going about my (increasingly busy, busy) daily life, putting up some seemingly smart barriers to the deluge of information that comes at me. But I have woken up to the stark fact that no mental barrier will stop this “train wreck” flying at my town and my community … only real action.

This spectacularly terrible plan for Vermont Railway’s “transmodal facility” proposed industrial site on Route 7, on Shelburne’s precious LaPlatte River, is starting super-sized. I heard it said three times bigger than the industrial site in Burlington. The owner of Vermont Railways, Mr. Wulfson, has pulled the preemption from our (inconvenient, isn’t it) Vermont Act 250 regulations card, so even our town administrators aren’t being told the full scope. And, according to Mr. Wulfson, why should they? There appears to be no controls on the railway.

But indeed there are controls. There is our community’s outrage!

People in Shelburne are organizing and getting educated, fast. Documentation is building, especially of Mr. Wulfson’s company’s questionable business practices. Our neighbors in Charlotte have been in their own battle with Mr. Wulfson, siting “17 specific concerns about safety hazards resulting from the railway’s storage of tank cars containing propane near many homes, town buildings and the Vermont Electric Cooperative’s high-voltage substation.” (Burlington Free Press, Nov 25, 2015).

Mr. Wulfson, with his team of lawyers and PR people, appear to really wants us to believe that he is a local guy who cares for our town, and that we should “trust him.” (Uhm, based on what … like clear-cutting the Shelburne property before anyone knew what was happening? Sorry, no!) And presumably we should, by extension, trust all the other companies that lease access to the rail system. Again, here is what Matt Young who is Vermont Rail System’s rules coordinator and hazmat specialist said, “… a Canadian firm, Plains Midstream Canada, is leasing track space from Vermont Rail Systems. The rail cars are owned by leasing companies that in turn rent them to other companies, including Plains Midstream.” The Free Press then continues: “The Alberta Energy Regulator, a watchdog agency for the Canadian province, stated in March of last year that PMC failed to conduct required inspections of pipelines and inadequately responded two major spills, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.”

Seriously? Trust the wolf at the door?

I stand with the hundreds and hundreds of others who are saying, this is not the right place for this railroad and trucking for-profit business!

Lisa Espenshade, Shelburne

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