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Gas Pipeline

Pipeline co. offers details

WARWICK — Several situations could keep the proposed natural gas pipeline from cutting a swath through the town.

Representatives from Kinder Morgan Co., the proponents of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, met with residents and officials Tuesday night to talk about their plans and field questions.

The pipeline’s proposed route, which would cut through Warwick and other towns on its way from the New York border to Dracut, is not yet set in stone, according to Allen Fore, Kinder Morgan’s director of public affairs. The entire project could, he said, end up nothing more than a pipe dream.

“We have hundreds of projects that never make it to the permit stage,” said Fore.

The route could also change, he said, once the company has a better handle on just what lies below the line they’ve drawn across the map.

“This is not an exact route,” Fore said. “It’s a survey corridor. We’re going to walk it by foot, and determine whether the route we’ve identified is actually constructible.”

While many Warwick residents, and the town itself, have denied Kinder Morgan permission to survey their land, Fore said the surveys could turn up information that would cause the company to reroute the pipeline.

Archaeologically significant finds, endangered or rare species, or geographic features could cause the company to change its route, said Fore.

Because of this, he said, the company will come up with a preferred route, as well as several alternatives, before going to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to begin the two-year permitting process.

Fore said the company would not begin the permit process unless it was 100 percent sure that its proposed route would be viable.

Before going for a permit, the company would also seek contracts with customers, to ensure return on the investment and show FERC that there is a need for the pipeline, said Fore.

Fore said the company has not contracted a single customer for the new pipeline, though several companies are interested.

Once the federal permit process begins, said Fore, residents, environmental groups, other concerned organizations and individuals will have a chance to be heard by the commission.

Jim Hartman, principal land specialist for the company, said Kinder Morgan would prefer to work with landowners, and would only seek eminent domain as a last resort.

“At the end of the day, the two ends of the pipe have to meet,” Fore added.

When construction begins, tentatively set for 2017, the company would acquire rights of way as wide as 125 feet, depending on topography, proximity to roads and wetlands and other factors, Fore said. Once construction is complete, the right of way would go down to 50 feet, and the difference would revert to the original landowners.

Some at the meeting asked how deep the pipeline would be buried.

It would vary, said Mark Hamarich, the company’s project manager, but typically, the pipe would be covered by 3 feet of fill. Adding in the 30 to 36-inch pipe itself, Hamarich said trenches would likely be 6 to 8 feet deep. Controlled blasting would be used to dig that trench through ledge and rock outcroppings, said Hamrich.

While the pipeline would run east-west, some north-south “spurs” could be installed to serve additional customers. Asked if a spur is planned for Warwick, Fore said there is not. However, he added, that doesn’t bar the possibility of a future spur through town, though Fore said future spurs would also have to go through the rigorous FERC permit process.

Residents asked Fore and his colleagues why the company isn’t installing the new pipeline on the existing right-of-way for the pipeline it operates in the southern end of the state, near the Massachusetts Turnpike.

That pipeline was installed more than 50 years ago, said Hamarich, and many of the areas where it passes have grown, with houses built where the construction right-of-way would go. Furthermore, he said, building near the turnpike would also be problematic.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279 on Twitter follow :@RecorderRain

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