Proposed Natural Gas Compressor Station Grabs Township Council’s, Mayor’s Attention

TRansco Public Info Session - 1

The Williams Companies held an information session July 28 at the Hotel Somerset-Bridgewater on Davidson Avenue for area residents concerned about plans to build a natural gas compressor station in the township.

Representatives of the company proposing to build a natural gas compressor facility in the township are willing to hold more public information sessions, the Township Council was told June 28.

In response to a request earlier in the day from Mayor Phillip Kramer, township manager Robert Vornlocker said he contacted officials from the Williams Companies, who, he said, told him they would “do what we want when it comes to public outreach.”

Williams, which owns the Transco natural gas pipeline, is looking at a 40-acre site off Route 27, near Promenade Boulevard, for its Greenfield Compressor Station. The compressor station construction is part of a $1 billion Northeast Supply Enhancement Project. The land is now owned by Trap Rock Industries.

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

Another site, a little further north and adjacent to a Superfund site, is also being considered.

Williams held two public information sessions on June 28 at the Hotel Somerset-Bridgewater, one during the late morning and one during the evening. Kramer said he was disappointed that the company held the sessions during times when township elected officials could not attend.

Vornlocker said two township employees did attend, the township engineer and senior zoning officer.

Township Councilman Ted Chase (D-Ward 1), said it appeared to him that the first option would be the best.

“It would seem to me that if you’re gong to have one of these at all, deep within the Trap Rock property and away from housing would be the place to have it,” he said.

Without saying whether he was for or against the facility, Kramer said that he needs “to be concerned about Franklin. That will guide my opinion about this.”

In addition to the compressor station, Williams is looking to install hundreds of miles of pipeline underground and offshore to Long Island, NY.

Scott Stockton, a Williams spokesman, said the company now has five compressor stations in New Jersey, and 45 more in locations in the 13 states Transco pipeline traverses.

The enhancement project is necessary, he said, because New York City is switching from heavy fuel oils in large buildings to natural gas.

“We’re at the very starting point of the process,” he said. “We’re gathering information, holding meeting like this, that we’ll use to create an application that we’ll file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,” he said.

The compressor facility will sit on about 6 acres, and will consist of several buildings, including an office building and a warehouse.

Stockton said that neighbors will not be able to hear the compressor because it will be power by a natural gas turbine.

Stockton also said the company has had no serious incidents with its compressor stations across the country.

“We haven’t made any final decisions, we’re still evaluating,” he said. “We’re trying to identify concerns and issues, so as we develop our application there are no surprises.”

Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters and a township resident, called natural gas pipelines “ticking time bombs.”

“The dangerous and unneeded compressor station in Franklin that is proposed to boost fraking gas from Pennsylvania and ship it out to sea will put our community at an even greater risk. Additionally, these compressor stations release toxins into our clean air.”

Potosnak said a newly formed citizens group, called Stop The Franklin Gas Compressor, is “a growing assemblage of citizens opposed to this compressor station and committed to getting the facts out about the threat it poses to our wonderful community.”

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