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Gas Pipeline

Conway to form task force to evaluate proposed gas pipeline

CONWAY — The Conway Board of Health has issued letters to other boards and committees in town requesting the formation of a task force to evaluate the impact of a proposed natural gas pipeline that is proposed to pass through Conway and eight other Franklin County towns on its way from New York state to Dracut.

Board of Health Chairman Carl Nelke said the town’s Planning Board originally approached the health board and asked it to take the lead on evaluating the possible effects of the proposed pipeline, but that the board felt as though the issue was too complex for one board to tackle.

“It didn’t feel like this issue was only a Board of Health issue. It encompasses many boards and committees in town, but it’s not entirely out of our purview, either,” said Nelke. “So, we sent a letter to the Planning Board proposing that we form a task force including emergency services, police, fire and other boards.”

On Monday night, the Selectboard designated member Jim Moore as its representative to the task force. Nelke said he expects the task force to be completely formed in coming weeks.

Nelke said that the biggest risk posed by the Class 1 pipeline, which is being planned by Tennesse Gas Pipeline Co. and its parent company, Kinder Morgan, would be a catastrophic rupture or leak. Many of the towns that the pipeline would pass through, as well as some that it would not, have already passed resolutions expressing their opposition to the project.

“We thought it would be good to go at it with a townwide perspective,” Nelke said. “It may just be a matter of getting a more secure pipeline, like a Class 3 with bolted flanges instead of welded connections. We need to sift through the data and get what really matters.”

The other towns that the pipeline would cross are Ashfield, Shelburne, Deerfield, Montague, Erving, Northfield, Warwick and Orange.

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