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Bedford County might study delivering fuel via rail to Montvale tanks
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Bedford County might study delivering fuel via rail to Montvale tanks

A study considering the possibility of transporting fuel by rail to the Montvale fuel tanks site in Bedford County might begin following the Bedford County Board of Supervisors’ unanimous adoption of a resolution Monday requesting state legislators’ aid in launching such a study.

The future of the Montvale tanks site, the operation of which was an important part of the county’s economy from 1964 to 2017, has been in question for some time.

Last operated by Alpharetta, Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline, the pipeline and fuel tanks were in use for more than 50 years. The pipeline flowed fuel into the storage tanks, and distributors could purchase fuel in bulk and truck it from the tanks to retailers throughout Southwest Virginia and West Virginia, until operations officially shut down in 2018. The existing distribution pipeline ultimately deteriorated in condition until it no longer was safe to distribute fuel through — at least not without significant repairs.

Colonial Pipeline has consistently said it is not planning to rehabilitate the existing pipeline and place the tanks back into service, as the company has said it would be too costly. In May 2018, the company reportedly was given a distribution line repair estimate of $200 million to $300 million.

Bedford County staff and representatives from the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance have looked into options for the future of the Montvale site’s terminals and tanks.

“The theory is to use rail cars to bring bulk fuel to the storage tanks instead of the pipeline, which can then be distributed via tanker trucks to their respective delivery locations,” said Robert Hiss, Bedford County administrator.

The study, if conducted, would examine the feasibility of transporting fuel by rail, and associated costs and contract requirements. No timeline was given as to when such a study may be conducted or completed.

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