Ten 47-foot tall gas tanks proposed for Northeastern Industrial Park

The Enterprise — Michael Koff
View of the Northeastern Industrial Park from Thacher Park in the Helderbergs: The proposed Airgas towers would go roughly in front of the two cylindrical towers near the center of the industrial park. The park’s tallest, block building toward the right, has lower silos nearby.

GUILDERLAND — A major producer of gases used in manufacturing, food production, health care, and balloons is proposing to build and operate a storage and distribution facility on three acres of land inside Guilderland’s 550-acre Northeastern Industrial Park.

Airgas USA’s site plan was before the town’s planning board on Wednesday for review; the zoning board is lead agency on the project. 

The company is looking to install 10 storage tanks on the site, each at a height of 46 feet, 9 inches. Guilderland’s code currently allows accessory structures in the industrial district to be 20 feet tall, so a variance of 26 feet, 9 inches would be needed. 

Airgas noted in its application that the zoning board previously approved a larger variance request for “storage silos related to Fishbach NY, which contains pellets for its caulking tube manufacturing facility.” The Fishbach facility is near the proposed Airgas project site. 

Each 13,000-gallon double-walled tank would hold argon, which is kept at a temperature of negative 300 degrees. Argon is used mainly in welding, the board was told, but also in electronics manufacturing. 

Argon and nitrogen, which is also proposed to be stored on-site, are inert gases, meaning they are not combustible; however, due to pressure build-up, containers holding the gases may burst in a fire.

Argon is currently trucked into the Northeast, where there is a shortage of the gas.

The argon would be distilled and liquified and shipped by rail to Guilderland, the board was told; many of the rail cars would be coming from the Gulf Coast — Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi — where there are large air-separation plants.

The planning board was told the plan is for four to five (the Airgas application says 10 to 12) trucks a day entering and exiting the site, and that it would be a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week operation.

The nearest residential properties are 950 to 1,000 feet to the west on Depot Road. “There are existing trees located on the east and west side of Depot Road that will act as a buffer to the proposed use,” according to Town Planner Kenneth Kovalchik’s memo to the board. 

Chairman Stephen Feeney noted that a line-of-site analysis had not been included as part of the application and recommended the zoning board ask for one. 

With Feeney’s line-of-site analysis added to the resolution, the board voted unanimously to give the Airgas site plan a positive recommendation. 

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