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Huge Turnout At FERC Gas Compressor ‘Scoping Session’

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Mayor Phillip Kramer reads the Township Council’s resolution opposing the gas compressor station outside the Senior/Community Center.


More than 200 people showed up Sept. 15 at the Senior/Community Center to give their opinions about the siting of a natural gas compression station in the southern part of the township.

And judging by the comments made by people outside the building and in prior venues, there weren’t too many positive opinions given.

The so-called “scoping session” was held by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and is a requirement in the permitting process for such stations.

As part of its $1 billion Northeast Supply Enhancement Project, Williams-Transco wants to build the Greenfield Compressor Station, a 32,000 hp natural gas-powered twin-turbine compressor, on one of two potential sites off Route 27 in Franklin Park.

Compressor stations raise the gas pressure in pipelines so the gas can make it to its final destination.

One option is near Promenade Boulevard, while the second is a little further north, near Carter’s Brook.

Both parcels under consideration are owned by Trap Rock Industries.

Williams says it needs the station to deliver natural gas to its customers in New York, where the demand is growing.

Opponents, most of whom live near the two proposed sites, say the compressor stations are too dangerous to build near residential areas, and near Trap Rock, where blasting is regularly conducted. They also cite a number of environmental issues, and call into question Williams-Transco’s safety record.

During the scoping session, half of the center’s large multipurpose room was used for the registration of commenters, while the other half was used as an information area by Williams employees.

Commenters were given a number, and then called into one of several rooms with FERC employees to give their statements, which were recorded. Each commenter was given 3 minutes.

There was also an opportunity to submit written comments.

Kevin Corcoran of Princeton Walk, a leader of the opposition, said he was “disappointed” that Williams-Transco people were allowed inside the building, while the protestors were initially told to stay outside.

He said eventually they were allowed to go inside and pass out fliers with their concerns.

“As the mayor himself said, it’s not quite fair how FERC has been handling this,” Corcoran said.

Mayor Phillip Kramer was there, as well as Deputy Mayor Ted Chase and Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad.

Corcoran’s group set up a literature table outside the center’s entrance, next to a video camera, which commenters used to record what they told FERC.

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Residents lined up to register to make comments.

There was also an “open mic” available to anyone who wanted to make a statement.

Kramer used the opportunity to read the Township Council’s resolution opposing the compressor station, which it passed at its Sept. 13 meeting.

“I think the people have been very responsive, which is good,” Corcoran said.

Williams-Transco did not have a spokesperson at the session, but did provide media with written statements on Sept. 13.

Following s the Williams-Transco statement addressing issues it anticipated being raised at the session:

FERC Scoping Meeting
We’re always very interested in the comments landowners and other interested parties submit to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), both in writing and during the FERC scoping hearings. We monitor those comments closely, so you can be sure that we are listening when a comment is provided to FERC. The FERC process is a very public process, so if people have opinions or issues they want FERC to consider, we’d certainly encourage them to take advantage of the many opportunities they have to express those comments to FERC.

Public Reaction to the Project
We understand that there are some concerns about the project. We take all of those concerns very seriously and are committed to working to address those issues the best we can. Underground pipelines aren’t something most people think about, but this complex infrastructure is vital for homes and businesses who depend on pipelines to deliver reliable, affordable energy.

Project Need
Transmission pipeline infrastructure is regulated by the federal government, specifically the FERC. We can’t put one shovel in the ground without first demonstrating that the infrastructure is necessary and in the greater public interest. The FERC will carefully evaluate this project to determine whether this project is needed.

The Transco pipeline, which has been providing reliable servicing in this area for decades, is currently operating at capacity. As our customers’ demand for gas increases, we have to periodically expand our existing facilities to allow more gas to be transported through our pipeline system.

Natural gas is an abundant, cost-effective fuel and its popularity has never been higher, thanks in large part to the environmental benefits it offers when compared to fuels such as coal or fuel oil. Projects like our Northeast Supply Enhancement proposal are important for northeastern residents to continue to enjoy reliable natural gas service.

Safety
Williams utilizes design features and operating practices that exceed many stringent industry and regulatory safety standards. Some of the measures include the inspection of the integrity of 100% of the welds on the pipeline and more frequent inspections than are required by law, including regular inspections with highly-sophisticated internal inspection tools.

In its email, Williams-Transco also included written statements from Laborers International Union of North America, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825, the Engineers-Labor Employer Cooperative and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, all of which were in support of the project.

The state Department of Environmental Protection still has to weigh in on the issue.

This is the beginning of a long process. FERC’s decision is not expected until next year and, if approved, the station would not be operable until 2018.

 

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