Christensen Oil’s North Warehouse — Not a Good Candidate for Hazardous Material Storage

Christensen Oil has 3 warehouses on the their site at 585 S 200 E.

Two are modern warehouses, specifically built to store lubricating oil.  They have sprinkler systems and spill protection systems.  They were built between 2008 and 2012.

A third, the North Warehouse, is older, built in 3 stages between 1973 and 1990.

It is about 85 feet square, 7500 square feet.

Public documents describe the events of its construction.
1) in 1973, Christensen Oil President Owen Christensen had purchased a Residential zoned lot adjacent to his Light Manufacturing lot.  He then poured a foundation, as if building a warehouse.  City staff inspected it, and determined that it was not illegal to pour a foundation.  But building a building would require a permit.

The city inspectors returned a few weeks later, and saw that a warehouse had been built, without a permit, on the foundation.

2) In 1990, Christensen Oil wanted to expand the warehouse.  And petitioned the city to rezone the land from Residential to Light Manufacturing.  The Maeser Neighborhood Association was concerned about expansion of lubricating oil and fuel in the neighborhood, and requested that if the zoning change be approved, that flammable or combustible liquids not be stored on this parcel of land.

The request was granted, and signed by President Todd Christensen in July, 1990.

Visitors on a site tour in Feb, 2020 were shown inside the two newer warehouses, but not the North Warehouse.  They were shown the sprinklers and the floor drains that would run spilled oil to an oil/water separator machine.

When asked to see the inside of the North Warehouse, they were told it was like the others.

A few months later, after some querying, the city’s Fire Marshal, Lynn Schofield admitted that the North Warehouse did not have sprinklers.

Later, with further querying, it was demonstrated that the building was constructed for “Occupancy B” which does not allow storage of hazardous materials.  And Chief Schofield said that they would be making corrections to ensure that all hazardous materials would be removed from the building.
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In the proposed Development Agreement with the City of Provo, the North Warehouse would be upgraded to allow storage of lubricating oil, a combustible liquid.

20200611_CitysProposalChristensenNorthWarehouseJPG

When “Occupancy” is changed, the building must be brought up to current building code and fire code.   This statute is found on Page 1 of the 2018 IFC.

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The North Warehouse has problems that make it unsuitable for storage of hazardous material —
1) It is on land that is covenanted to never be used for storage of oil or fuel
2) It is too close to the west property line — just 2 feet away.  5 or 10 feet required.
3) It has oil storage tanks too close to the east wall, just 4 feet away, 5 feet required.
4) It doesn’t have fire exits for employees in the event of a fire.  Required.
5) It may not have the required fireproofing in the walls for storing oil.
6) It doesn’t have a spill containment system.

Generally, oil storage and residential homes are separated.  Provo’s zoning code has historically separated them.  An increase in oil storage is not a good idea in a residential neighborhood.

But, if it is going to be used for oil storage, it should be required to be fully upgraded, as per the terms of the 2018 International Fire Code Section 102.3.  No leniency should be granted in a facility that is located next to places where children, adults, elderly people and pets live and sleep.

 

 

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