If you’ve been reading the Free Lance Star for the last few months, the issue of rail cars and Mayfield has often appeared on the front page. CSX operates a rail yard that has bordered the neighborhood of Mayfield for decades and often uses that rail yard to store hazardous material such as chlorine gas. This rail yard has been in existence for years and has safely operated for that whole time, but over the past year, more and more rail cars have been visible to Mayfield residents, bringing the issue of safety to the forefront of people’s minds.
In 2009, the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit for the ethanol facility, Transflo, to operate out of the Bowman Center. The facility’s operations have meant increased rail traffic, and storage, along the rail yard sidings. On some days, there are as many as 30 to 40 rail cars sitting on the sidings near Mayfield. It is impossible to tell whether these rail cars are full or empty, but the hazardous materials symbols on many of the cars are hard to miss. This issue is not just an aesthetic one for Mayfield residents, but a safety concern for all people living and working in the area. If a chlorine gas accident were to occur, the gases from the spill could travel for miles, threatening people in every neighboring jurisdiction.
Mayfield residents have been fighting to reduce the number of rail cars stored in their backyards. Residents understand that the rail yard has been there for a long time and has operated safely, and they are not advocating for its complete relocation, they are just seeking a compromise that will reduce the number of visible cars and the chances that any disaster would occur. The FAAR Board of Directors and Government Affairs Committee believes this is an important community quality of life and safety issue and FAAR is actively working with the Mayfield community to support their efforts. If you would like to show your support for the Mayfield community, please come out to the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors meeting tomorrow at 6:15pm to stand with local residents. This issue is an important one and something that concerns us all, not just the residents of Mayfield.