Press-Republican

June 11, 2013

Plan approved to store explosives at former Air Base

DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — A Pennsylvania-based company has received permission to move forward with plans to store explosives and ammunition on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base.

The Town of Plattsburgh Planning Board has approved Paramount Enterprise International’s proposal to use up to 13 of the 15 former weapons storage bunkers for that purpose, similar to what the Air Force used the site for while it was in Plattsburgh. 



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The firm also plans to use a nearby warehouse for loading and unloading explosives before and after storage and will install one or two commercial construction trailers for offices.

Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corp. Director of Construction and Engineering Kristy Dantes and Aaron Ovios of Robert M. Sutherland PC provided additional details about the plan.

“Paramount wants to be completely open with what’s going on,” Dantes said.

FIVE BUNKERS AT FIRST

The initial use calls for storage of TNT, she said, but Paramount is licensed to transport and store other types of explosives and ammunition.

Ovios said the applicant plans to use five bunkers to start. The amount and type of material in each bunker determines how much distance must be maintained between each one and the closest bunker and inhabited structures.

The only inhabited structure in the immediate vicinity is the Nomad Airstream Building to the northwest, which is outside the approximately 2,000-foot buffer required for the planned use.

Based on that separation and because only five bunkers that are not adjacent to each other would initially be used, regulations allow for up to 275,000 pounds of explosives in each bunker. 

INSPECTIONS REQUIRED

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the New York State Department of Labor have jurisdiction over such facilities in New York, Ovios said. 

Those agencies will have to inspect and approve the facility once renovations and repairs are complete.

The agencies can also inspect the facility at any time in the future. Ovios said the town code-enforcement officers can also perform an onsite inspection at any time.

The property where the bunkers and warehouse are located has security fencing and is expected to include monitors, alarms and security cameras.

NEW DOORS NEEDED

The bunkers were constructed with 6-inch concrete walls and roofs. They are covered with earth for additional protection. 

The doors were removed some time ago, so new ones need to be installed. Dantes said it will cost about $8,000 to $9,000 to install each door, which will be paid by Paramount.

The doors would be 1/4-inch hardened steel with an additional 2 inches of hardwood backing, with two covered locks on each door. They would be monitored at all times when open.

Dantes said that if one of the doors is tampered with, there would be an immediate response, noting that State Police are just down the road on Route 22.

COUNTY TO LEASE SITE 

Joe Walsh of Paramount Enterprises told the Planning Board that most of the work would be done between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The company plans to have two employees in Plattsburgh when the facility opens.

He said Paramount would keep detailed records of all materials that are on the site and provide Material Safety Data Sheets to Clinton County Emergency Services.

The Planning Board added a stipulation that the approval can only be transferred to a subsidiary of Paramount Enterprises.

PARC owns the property where the driveway and trailer parking area are located and plans to sell that to Paramount. Clinton County owns the parcels where the bunkers and transfer building are and would lease them to the firm.

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com