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Provo Residents Seek to Block Christensen Oil from Storing More Gasoline and Oil in Their Neighborhood
Christensen Oil currently stores 400,000 gallons of oil and gasoline near residential homes in Provo, Utah. Maeser Neighbors for Safety objects to a proposal to add additional storage in their neighborhood and seeks to move additional storage to a safer place — in a heavy industrial zone.
PROVO, UTAH, Aug. 23, 2020 — Christensen Oil, based in Provo, Utah, already stores 400,000 gallons of gasoline and oil next to residential homes. Recently, the city of Provo changed the zoning to allow Christensen to store an additional 110,000 gallons of gasoline and oil on the site. Concerned citizens, including Maeser Neighbors for Safety, petition the city to move the storage to a safer location and update current storage.
Maeser Neighbors for Safety are concerned that there is already a health and safety risk with current levels of storage. Adding additional storage will only make this worse, as residential neighborhoods are not a safe place to store gasoline and oil.
The citizen’s group is petitioning the city to have the proposed new oil and gasoline storage moved to a satellite location in a heavy industrial zone. They also seek to have Christensen Oil update their facilities at the current site to meet modern seismic standards and fire code.
They have circulated a petition around the neighborhood, and have 120 signatures supporting the goals of the group.
Already, Christensen Oil, which is located in a partly residential block in the Maeser Neighborhood, stores gasoline tanker trucks that are parked next to people’s backyards. There are 8,000 gallon oil tanks which are located just 3′ 6” from backyards. Also, they store gasoline in 30,000 gallon silos within 150 feet of homes!
Current storage is characterized by city staff and council as a poor mix of land uses. The city’s Neighborhood Services Director Director, Gary McGinn, said, “This is a really bad situation.” but says “our job is to recommend to the mayor [the development plan] that we legitimately believe it makes the neighborhood safer”, while he also acknowledges that “It may not be as safe as you’d like”. (Meeting with Maeser Neighbors for Safety, August 13, 2020). We think that the city should aspire to make the Christensen site “safe” — not just “safer”!
Rachel Favero, who lives next to Christensen, challenges Gary McGinn’s assertion by asking “There are no concessions to us. We’re asking for balance from the city and we’re not getting any. We’re just getting more oil.”
Previously, Christensen was a“grandfathered” land use and not allowed to expand. “We think that 400,000 gallons is already too much! No other neighborhood in Utah has gasoline stored in close proximity to houses,” said Ted Buehler, organizer with Maeser Neighbors for Safety, who owns a home that borders the property.
If storage of oil and gasoline next to houses is a bad idea, it seems that storing more of it is a worse idea. Yet the city’s Fire Marshal, Lynn Schofield, at a City Council Meeting, stated, “This is the best worst decision we could come up with.” (May 5, 2020 02:22:00)
Carolina Allen, who lives just 1 block away, states “We don’t mind them being there, as long as they follow code, but we don’t want them to expand!”
Another safety concern is that Fire Marshal Schofield initially believed that the applicable Fire Code to the operations at Christensen was the 1935 code, as that is when the operation began. In fact, modern fire code covers “operations” and parking is an operation. So we are concerned that this error in interpretation of the current fire code may be reflected in other areas of the city’s inspections as well.
And yet another neighborhood concern is a change of use of a warehouse to store lubricating oil. But the building doesn’t have sprinklers. The Fire Marshal initially stated that this was not a problem, but after we provided him with documentation he required Christensen to reduce the amount of oil stored in the warehouse .
We feel that since Christensen Oil chose to build its facility next to preexisting homes, that they should be held to the highest possible standard before being issued building permits to construct new oil tanks. And that new tanks should be put on a satellite lot, rather than placed right behind houses.
We encourage anyone concerned about this to contact Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi, and tell her “no expansion of oil storage at Christensen”, and ask her to ensure that the existing facility meets current code and industry best practices.
Find more info can be found at “Keep Provo Safe” Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/725378931241778 or at keepprovosafe.org.
Christensen Oil in Provo seeks amendment to M-1 zone May 2020
About Maeser Neighbors for Safety
Organized May 2020
* To stop Christensen Oil from adding more oil storage, and
* bring current gasoline and oil storage into compliance with modern fire code.