FOX23 Investigates: How does the chemical facility next to BMX impact the area?

TULSA, Okla. — The new U.S.A. BMX National Headquarters has been open for two months and has already hosted several elite racing camps.

The 125,000-square-foot arena can seat up to two thousand people. But what concerns people like a chemical engineer FOX23 interviewed is what’s been happening next door to the BMX track: transloading butane.

FOX23 previously reported in 2019 that a company called Second Base that’s been doing business here since 2015. The company spent $2.7 million to get the operation going. This was seven years before the BMX facility opened.

The president of Second Base told FOX23 in 2019 the city of Tulsa had been talking to the company about helping them move.

Since then, the president said the conversation with city leaders never went anywhere, so the company continued to do business in Tulsa.

FOX23 reported on railcars carrying liquid butane on the tracks at the transloading facility.

Butane is highly flammable and can be used in gasoline, aerosol and cigarette lighters. FOX23 went to Second Base in 2019, and we were shown how the process works as well as the company’s strict safety protocols.

The butane is transferred into tanker trucks that lineup alongside the railcars. Then the trucks haul it away, and the chemical is later blended into a fuel.

The company was required to provide the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with its “worst case scenario.” It shows that if a single railcar leaked butane and caught fie, it could cause an explosion that affects people and property in a radius four-tenths of a mile away.

That includes a neighborhood east of the company — the Greenwood District. It also includes Oklahoma State University’s (OSU) Tulsa campus and ONEOK Field.

Along with all these sites that could be affected, the new BMX headquarters also stands in the impact zone.

Second Base’s risk management plan indicates they have no “reportable incidents.”

Their plan also describes the “prevention measures ... to help quickly detect a release [and] contain it.”

In fact, the company president told FOX23 in the seven years of transloading butane in Tulsa, Second Base has never had a single incident.

But now, FOX23 has found out that Second Base is no longer doing business next to the BMX facility.

The company explained their lease with Watco ― the company that owns the property — did not renew their lease. By the end of February 2022, Second Base had packed up and left.

The big question still looms: Will transloading butane no longer happen here?

Despite Second Base’s departure, FOX23 has seen more activity with transportation trucks parked next to train cars.

FOX23 reached out to Watco on April 14, 2022 and emailed a list of questions about what’s happening right now at that location.

A Watco representative emailed back the next day and said, “I will check and get back with you.”

Two weeks later, FOX23 is still waiting on information from Watco.

FOX23 also asked the city of Tulsa about whether or not transloading butane was still taking place at this site.

The city of Tulsa explained they did not help Second Base move, but they confirmed Watco is still “operatinng the butane facility,” and that the city is “not currently in discussions with Watco.”

But another group is.

A member of the development group Greenwood Phoenix said in an April 5, 2022 meeting:

“I want to stress we’re trying to create additional value by acquiring the Watco property, and we’re already in negotiations with Watco, and Watco is listening to us. So much so they’re considering an investment in it as well.”

Second Base has two other locations — one in north Tulsa near Pine and Yale and one in Oklahoma City. The president said his company moved most of the equipment to the Pine and Yale location.