Valero refinery expansion plan worries nearby residents

Valero refinery expansion plan worries nearby residents

MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – Valero provided food for residents of the Riverview neighborhood of South Memphis during a meeting Thursday night.  But they came hungry for answers concerning the company's proposal to install two new 95,000 gallon bio-diesel storage tanks at its refinery just off I-55.

"I grew up in this community and my family owns property in this community," said Cheryl Ballard.  "And I'm here because I'm concerned what Valero does in this community."

"Because you already have a present danger in the neighborhood already," said Gail Moore.  "And to add to that present danger, it shouldn't be."

Fears are heightened following last spring's explosion which killed one worker and critically injured two others after, according to a recently completed state investigation, safety protocols were not properly followed.

"That does not give them a vote of confidence," said Rita Harris with the Sierra Club, which monitors the environmental impact of many companies.

"I know Valero has community giving programs and gives money to Carver High," said Harris.  "But at the same time there are other issues."

Refinery officials admitted the public relations hurdle may be their biggest.  However, they told the crowd this latest project poses no danger.

"These are small tanks," said one Valero representative.  "This will have no impact."

Folks who live in Valero's shadow said they've heard reassurances before.

The city and county's zoning board of adjustment will decide this issue following a public hearing at Memphis City Hall next Wednesday.

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