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Alexandria Opposes Expansion Of Hazardous Materials Facility

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Norfolk Southern Railroad is seeking to increase its liquid ethanol distribution, a move Alexandria officials oppose.
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Norfolk Southern Railroad is seeking to increase its liquid ethanol distribution, a move Alexandria officials oppose.

Leaders in Alexandria are taking steps to oppose the expansion of a hazardous materials facility near the city's border with Fairfax County. 

Every day on the West End of Alexandria, Norfolk Southern Railroad has the authority to transfer 14 railcars of liquid ethanol onto tanker trucks. Now the railroad wants to more than double that amount. 

"It's near rail track, Metro track, a residence, a school. I mean I just can't believe that they see this as an idea site to have that kind of sustained operation," said Alexandria Councilman Paul Smedberg.

Last night, council members unanimously approved a resolution formally opposing the expansion -- even though city leaders acknowledge its an uphill battle because railroads are regulated by the federal government.

"One of my clients was negotiating with a freight railroad and bemoaning it and said the guy actually said to me at one point, he banged the table and said I don't know where you got your authority from but I got mine from Abraham Lincoln," said Councilman Tim Lovain, who deals with freight rail in his work as a lobbyist. 

City officials are hoping the state will conduct a public hearing in Alexandria so residents who live near the facility can air their concerns.

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