SALEM — The Footprint Power executives who acquired Salem Harbor Station last year got to share their plans for the 65-acre waterfront site at the opening of a public hearing last night before the Planning Board.
They also got to hear the fears and concerns of neighbors who live across the street and around the corner from land where, in the first phase of this proposed multi-year redevelopment, they plan to build a 670-megawatt natural gas power plant.
“I personally don’t welcome it,” said Linda Haley, an active member of the Historic Derby Street Neighborhood Association. “I’m scared of it. I don’t think it’s the best use of the harbor.”
She raised the potential dangers faced by homeowners living near industrial sites and mentioned the explosion several years ago in Danversport and the more recent one at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas.
“Why does the power plant have to be here in a very (dense) community,” she said, “and is there a way we can be protected from an explosion from gas?”
Haley was one of several residents to raise safety issues. Several people expressed concerns about a large ammonia tank proposed for the new plant, which is needed to reduce emissions.
“I’d like to know how stable that tank is going to be ...” said Lester Smith, who lives near the site. “I just want to make sure that puppy is secure.”
There were questions about demolition of the current coal- and oil-fired power plant and plans to take down the emission stacks, one of which is 500 feet tall.
The current plant closes next May, after which Footprint says it will begin major demolition. It hopes to have its new plant in operation by 2016.
“Are those stacks going to be demolished by implosion?” Smith said.