Councilor Thomas Sullivan said the city should insist on being included in the study due to potential risks to residents in the event of an accident or terrorism.
“We owe it to the public to investigate this further,” Sullivan said. “And potential terrorist activity is part of the concern.”
According to a 2011 study by the state Department of Environmental Protection, ethanol is the largest-by-volume hazardous material currently transported by train. Special alcohol-resistant foam is required to extinguish the material should it catch fire.
Fire Chief Richard Borden said his department has access to the foam required to put out an ethanol fire and that firefighters are trained in responding to train accidents. Borden said he learned of Global Companies’ proposal only recently.
“We want to be in the study so we can find out what steps we need to take to prepare for this if it happens,” Fiorentini said of the company’s proposal. “Trains go through the city all the time with dangerous and hazardous materials, so our Fire Department trains on this all the time. But if there’s more or different training or equipment we need for this, we want to find out as soon as possible so we can start making preparations.”
An aide for state Rep. Brian Dempsey said Dempsey will push Haverhill’s request to be included in the transportation department’s study as soon as he receives it. The aide said the state study is scheduled to be completed March 23.
State Sen. Barry Finegold, whose district includes Andover and other communities on the proposed ethanol train route, said he was unaware of Global Companies’ proposal and declined comment.