Superior Court Judge Hears Portsmouth's Challenge To Sea-3 Expansion

Jul 21, 2015

The city of Portsmouth is trying to overturn a neighboring town’s approval of a controversial propane rail project. On Tuesday, a Superior Court judge heard arguments from attorneys on both sides.

The controversial Sea-3 rail expansion project would ship propane from fracking sites in the American West to their expanded Newington facility.  And it would run through Portsmouth. 

Newington's planning board gave the okay to the project’s expansion after six months of deliberation.  But Portsmouth’s attorney Jane Ferrini argued in Rockingham Superior Court on Tuesday that the board didn’t do enough.

"There wasn’t a study that was comprehensive," she said. "Yes we have these individual studies that were done - a traffic study, a fire safety analysis. But there was no overriding view of the comprehensive safety of the system."

Three attorneys representing Sea-3 argued the project has already undergone previous safety studies, and must comply with a multitude of federal regulations.

Representing Sea-3, Portsmouth attorney Alec McEachern also clarified for the first time that the facility will supply propane domestically by truck as well as internationally by ship, once the local market is satisfied.

Judge Marguerite Wageling’s decision can be appealed to the state Supreme Court.  Either way, Sea-3 and its opponents will battle again in October at a hearing before the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.