Friday, September 7, 2012

MORE: Getting Railroaded

From: Richard Thomas
Sent: Friday, September 07, 2012 11:51 AM
Subject: RE: Getting Railroaded

I found it amusing that the U.S. Rail objected to a condition for getting a permit from Brookhaven Town (in December 2009) because the Town unreasonably wished to seek "a covenant prohibiting future expansion of the BRT to adjoining tracts of land."

U.S. Rail told the Surface Transportation Board, that it neither it "nor any related entity" "had any ownership or other interest" in adjoining tracts of land, so the Town's request for the covenant prohibiting future expansion was unreasonable and "entirely inappropriate."


The other odd thing is that the company has so many names:

    Brookhaven Rail, LLC (Brookhaven)
    U.S. Rail of New York/Brookhaven
    U.S. Rail Corporation
    Oakland Transportation Holdings, LLC
    Brookhaven Terminal Rail LLC
    etc.

Then there are the

    Suffolk & Southern Rail Road LLC,
    Sills Road Realty, LLC, and
    New York & Atlantic Railway Company.

You could spend weeks Googling all those names.

The last one, New York & Atlantic Railway Company, seems to be just a rail freight service company and may not be corporately entwined with the others, but who knows. [The NY & Atlantic Railway Company is the freight hauler for the Long Island Rail Road, and not likely intertwined with any of the BRT companies.  Blog editor]

It was even a problem for the Surface Transportation Board to sort it out.
Docket No. FD 35141, et.  al.
On October 2, 2007, the Board received a letter from Brookhaven concerning a proposed rail facility being constructed by U S Rail on property it had leased in Yaphank.  Upon further investigation, it appeared that this was the same property and proposed rail facility discussed in the Board’s September 2007 decision in FD 35036.
Why would a rail company enter proceedings with the Surface Transportation Board under different names? 

There then ended up being two document numbers for two separate proceedings.

Seems rather fishy to me. 

The Surface Transportation Board decided it would have to impose its control by issuing an order directed at "any related entity." 
Because evidence suggested that construction might be occurring or contemplated on the property and no Board authority had been sought, the Board reopened the proceeding on its own motion and directed U S Rail, Suffolk, Sills, or any other related entity undertaking construction of any rail facilities in Yaphank, Brookhaven, or anywhere in that vicinity, to immediately cease that activity and to obtain either Board authority or a Board decision (through a declaratory order proceeding or other appropriate formal means) finding that such activity does not require Board approval.

I didn't spend weeks Googling all the names, but I did spend an hour or so this morning.

U.S. Rail Corporation was established in 2004 and incorporated in Ohio.  It's based in Toledo.

In a Surface Transportation Board hearing (STB FD No. 34797), the counsel for U.S. Rail described U.S. Rail as
"a short line railroad with operations in Ohio . . . [that] generates a large part of its revenue from hauling solid waste materials."
New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection states that the NJ DEP's 
"experience has demonstrated that many non-rail entity solid waste operators align themselves with rail carriers in order to evade state and local regulation under the guise of federal preemption."
Here is where the real value of a Brookhaven Rail Terminal lies:
New England Transrail Project, January 25, 2006

    Our research indicates that solid waste in Northeast region of the United States is that region's major outbound component for export.  Because of the high volumes and dense bulk, loads of solid waste are ideally suited for rail transportation.  In order to attract this commodity, railroads must be able to locate suitable transloading facilities . . . in order to interface with local customers.
The question is, where will the waste from U.S. Rail facilities in New England and New Jersey be going?

(Waste from New England, New Jersey, and who knows where else, that is.)  

Is it all going to some incinerator somewhere near one of U.S. Rail's facilities, where the resulting ash will then be reloaded and taken to the Brookhaven landfill?

What is U.S. Rail doing with all the "solid waste in the Northeast" that it is now (or soon will be) "exporting"?

The company was going to take it to southern Ohio where it had a deal with Chartwell International.
Chartwell owns coal acreage in Ohio and has hopes of developing a landfill operation.
But they've had a falling out, and now U.S. Rail is suing them:


Will the company be able to compete better with other methods of waste disposal by having a place to put it's garbage (or its ash) in the Northeast?

Why not find some local government that is already addicted to the income generated from its landfill? 

Like any addict, it's not likely to put up too much fuss as long as it can continue to get its fix (money).

I am impressed that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection very actively opposed the U. S. Rail activities in New Jersey. 


Why is the New York DEC so inept at doing its major job, protecting the environment?

New Jersey's DEP was active from the start in fighting the US Rail terminal in Paterson.

It should be obvious to anyone that choosing to locate a rail transportation terminal in Yaphank was not some accidental choice. 

As John said, Yaphank is not the logical place to put a freight terminal for delivering food, consumer, and/or building products to the population of Long Island.

So for what possible reason would a rail company invest millions of dollars to build a terminal in Yaphank, on the south side of the Long Island Expressway?

I can tell you that it surely wasn't because they where contemplating acquiring additional land to lease to some Indian tribe for a casino.

Yes, why would a rail company that gets most of its income from transporting waste want to locate a terminal in Yaphank?

You only have to look to the south.


Richard




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