RIVERHEAD - Some Riverhead residents and officials say they had no idea that an oil facility was storing a highly flammable crude oil in their neighborhood.
Town leaders say they were never informed that the United Riverhead Terminal facility stores Bakken crude oil in its tanks. Critics say that Bakken is the most combustible form of crude oil because it can ignite at a lower temperature.
Town Supervisor Sean Walter says that the news comes as a complete surprise. He says that officials learned of the Bakken crude during an annual inspection by the fire marshal.
Environmentalists say that Bakken also poses a risk if spilled.
Bill Toedter, of the North Fork Environmental Council, says that it contains toxic compounds that can seep into drinking water.
John Catsimatidis, the terminal's chief executive, says that the facility has passed local, state and federal safety guidelines.
"This is the safest terminal in the Northeast," Catsimatidis says. "We have not had a problem there in over 60 years."