Gas Pipeline

Conway residents take aim at safety, contents of pipeline

CONWAY — The safety of the community and questions about the contents of natural gas that will flow through a proposed Tennessee Gas Co. pipeline dominated a special Selectboard meeting in Conway Thursday night.

In a question-and-answer session that followed a brief presentation by parent company Kinder Morgan, about 75 local residents spent the better part of two hours quizzing representatives from the energy giant, at one point requesting that the session be extended beyond its alotted time to allow everyone to have their questions aired.

Many of the questions had to do with what safety measures would be taken to ensure that an accident along the pipeline did not pollute the community or result in death or injury.

Resident John Rioux called the company’s safety record into question, citing information in a Forbes Magazine article that said the company had committed numerous safety violations in the construction of its Rockies Express pipeline in Colorado.

“Given all this, why should we trust you?” asked Rioux.

In response, Allen Fore, the company’s vice president of public affairs, said some mistakes are inevitable on large projects with many contractors involved and that the company continuously strives to improve its practices.

“We have a lot of projects and I’m not going to say we’re perfect, but if mistakes are made, we fix them,” Fore said. “We’re the only energy company that posts our safety record; you can view it on our website.”

Jim Hartman, the company’s senior right-of-way agent, said that there had only been one accident involving Kinder Morgan’s pipelines in Massachusetts since he joined the company in 1982 and that it had been a result of a third party performing construction work nearby.

Others asked the representatives to provide information about what types of chemicals may be present in the gas as a result of the hydraulic fracturing process through which it is obtained.

“What’s in the gas?” asked resident Barry Elson.

Citing a series of scientific studies, he rattled off a list of the adverse effects of some of the possible chemicals are believed to have, saying that some of them are carcinogenic or mutagenic, while others have detrimental effects on the kidneys, liver and cardiovascular systems. “Why should we allow you to poison our town?” he said.

“We’re not sure what comes out of the pipeline, but all of it is regulated and controlled and disposed of properly,” said Mark Hammrich, one of the company’s project managers. “We just transport the gas, we’re not in the business of fracking or drilling.”

Resident Bill Comeaux questioned what would happen to his drinking well if the pipeline, which will be entirely underground and will pass close to his property, were to leak.

“If there’s an accident, who will take care of my well?” he said.

In response to Comeaux concerns, Hammrich said the pipeline is a closed system, and that because the gas is lighter than air it would rise through the ground and dissipate into the atmosphere instead of becoming stuck into the ground.

“There will not be any gas being fracked along the length of the pipeline,” Hammrich said.

Many of the residents in attendence took issue with what they perceived as the representatives’ tendency to point the finger at the companies that frack the gas itself, insisting that they are only the middle man in the process.

“You keep saying ‘We’re just the messenger.’ Well, we’re the people who live here,” said a Conway resident who identified himself only as Zee. “You get the money and we get the possibility of having our homes destroyed.”

Local governments have no say over the envisioned $3 billion to $4 billion pipeline, and while the state Legislature may have some say over its route, it is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that is the agency that licenses such interstate energy projects.

The currently proposed 300-mile route for the 30-inch diameter pipe cuts through Conway, Ashfield, Shelburne, Deerfield, Montague, Erving, Warwick, Orange and Northfield.

Very interesting letter. Can you please list the source(s) of your many assertions.

On June 24th, at the FRCog meeting, Curtis Cole, Kinder Morgan Commercial Director, for the Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline, spoke about our area of the United States being "just like North Korea" from "satellite photos". This is how they think about us as fellow Americans.

There isn't one single time when Kinder Morgan has acknowledged harm, even when folks have died: they likely spend more on lawyers, PR and Lobbyists than on safety . . . . . . . . . . . Years of litigation, and "non disclosure agreements" from what is widely reported all over the U.S. and Canada, designed to keep a lid on what's going on. PHMSA is completely overtaxed, and increasingly underfunded: just this year a 9% cut in staff. ............... \ Since 2012 gas industry/investments etc. are completely exempt from Clean Air, Clean Water, Clean Drinking Water, Superfund and Recovery legislation. They spend millions in government lobbying to insure there is no meaningful oversight other than completing paperwork. (they claim "no corporate donations", but personal giving to PACs and candidates is well documented.). . . The gas industry has gotten away with not disclosing the chemicals used in new extraction techniques: these are, according to them , "trade secrets", but increasing documentation is bringing to light chemicals used in gas production that include, but are not limited to, VOC's, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, Benzen, arsenic, Stronteum . . . and these likely become part of the gas. There is NO oversight of what is actually being pumped into peoples homes and businesses, and what we formerly understood as "natural" gas is less and less available, versus unconventional gas, through these extreme production methods. They spend a lot of time and money making sure we have no idea what goes in our homes, or what we are supporting. . . . though federal subsidies (our money), through exemptions from laws everyone else obeys, from taxation proportional to what we each pay, and from accountability for whatever mess they make. "Trade secrets" are just a whole lot more important than public safety to these people. Profit for the .01% uber alles! The slick lady in the pantsuit is an enormously well funded advertising campaign. Pipelines leak at a rate of 8 to 11%. No superfund. Extra radiation from Marcellus gas (Resnikoff, 2012) And this grid of pipeline is being ginned up on the basis of a 30 days a year purchases on the spot market. . . . as a "bridge" fuel. They demonstrate further abuse of the public by doing an end run around Massachusetts law in their most recent southern Ma FERC process, attempting to skip all environmental review and demanding an "expedited process" while again, it looks like segmenting after a federal ruling against this. (Riverkeeper versus FERC & Tennessee Gas Pipeline) . . . landsmen state that they are "following Massachusetts environmental law" in their sales pitches. . . . their corporate behavior in response to MA law, and to environmental law is in stark contrast to this. FERC is forbidden, thanks to lobbying, to evaluate costs of clean up for this "bridge" fuel. Gas investment entities are, again, exempt from Superfund legislation. Take a look at costing for the Rose disposal pit in Lanesboro, MA for an idea of costs to "ratepayers" that are not allowed to be factored into FERC filings. This is a hidden cost to "ratepayers". That will be you, and me, and our children. . . . We have two import terminals in Everett and Gloucester, to the tune of 750 million dollars: now that Kinder Morgan has a fleet of LNG freighters, this is a better use of our land and our money at this point in American history.

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