Flammable gas pipelines and quarries – a match made in heaven, am I right?

Stephen from Stockton NJ tells us about the Trap-Rock quarry in Delaware Township. The pipeline will be running within a few thousand feet of it…where they routinely use blasting. And where, as many have pointed out, the ground is predominantly diabase, a very hard rock that transmits vibrations (e.g. like those from blasting) surprisingly long distances.

I am opposed to the obviously short-sighted reliance and expansion of our dependence on the climate-changing fossil fuels transported by the proposed Penn-East pipeline (PF-15.1). The safety issue raised by putting this pipeline so close to the active Trap-Rock quarry in Delaware Township NJ must be seriously addressed before the committee can consider accepting the plan. Both the original route and the newly presented alternate route come within a few thousand feet of the quarry, where blasting of the bedrock occurs. The blasts create seismic vibrations along the diabase bedrock that extends well into the proposed pipeline routes near the quarry. the harder the bedrock, the greater the transport of the seismic energy.

Surprisingly, the alternate route remains closer to the blast site for an even longer distance than the original route. Both routes are unacceptable, as is the whole short-sighted pipeline concept. Peak particle velocities (PPV) are high enough that residences along this bedrock within a few thousand feet from the quarry blast sites are significantly shaken by the blasts. The proposed pipeline routes are at a similarly close distance to the quarry and on the same bedrock formation.

Within a few years, these seismic vibrations will create local stresses and strains on the pipeline and welds, allowing for formation of defects that will enhance subsequent corrosion. Obviously, this will significantly increase the probability of cataclysmic rupture of the pipeline.

The developers of this project ignore this problem but realize that the probability of pipeline failure is significant enough to become an LLC so as to protect themselves. Who will protect the other Americans along these routes, or are some just ‘collateral damage’? Co-locating the pipeline near blast sites is a ridiculously short sighted endeavor. We have seen no indication of real-time surveillance of pipeline integrity during pipeline usage.

How has the committee assessed the problem of the co-location of the pipeline near a blast site? Are there specific seismic measurements along the route near the quarry? How does the planned expansion of the quarry fit into the future safety of the pipeline? Is there an assessment regarding multiple years of seismic activity caused by the blasts on the integrity of the pipes and welds? The land in the area of the pipeline near the quarry, between Brookville Hollow road and Lambertville-Headquarters road, is diabase and a poor drainage area. What is the effect of long term water exposure in the wet soil on pipeline and weld durability, especially after damage caused by the seismic quarry-initiated vibrations? What is the shut-off time if a rupture occurs? Will it be similar to 1.5 hours seen in the San Bruno explosion? Has the committee done its due diligence in protecting the public and ensuring the long-time viability of this precarious venture?

I know this quarry! You can see it on the D&R Canal tow path between Stockton and Lambertville, my wife and I take our dogs walking on their regularly.

Here it is on Google Earth in relation to the pipeline survey corridor:

As you can see Stephen is correct, the pipeline passes within 3,500 feet of the pipeline.

There’s another active quarry near me where the pipeline also will be passing – the one by Baldpate mountain:

This one is 3,100 feet from the pipeline route.

Why would you place a pipeline that close to blasting sites? And then double down by putting the pipeline into hard bedrock that’s going to transmit those blasts highly efficiently right to your pipeline welds?

Stephene’s submission is below:

Stephen from Stockton – original submitted text

Stephen from Stockton – original submitted text Alternate Site

Blasting concerns in Baldpate and Belle Mountain areas

It may not be widely known that for large portions of the PennEast route mere “digging” isn’t going to cut it. The route is going through very mountainous terrain with rock formations exposed right at the surface. Drive around West Amwell, Lambertville, and Hopewell township and you’ll see what I mean. Exposed rock everywhere! Driving along route 29, or route 518, or even on 202 near the Delaware river bridge and you’ll see the stone formations. They’re actually quite beautiful in the winter as small water falls freeze in place on the walls. If you’re not from the area think of the NJ palisades, those are made of the same stuff.

What you’re seeing is diabase, which is what makes up the bulk of the Sourland mountains. Goat Hill, Belle Mountain, and Baldpate are all made of diabase.

As I said, digging isn’t going to cut it for installing a pipeline. So they’re going to have to blast out the rock.

William and Dorothy of Hopewell, NJ tell the FERC why it’s a very, very bad idea to do this.

We are writing to voice our concerns regarding the proposed PennEast pipeline. The PennEast pipeline is one of more than ten pipelines being proposed to supply gas to New Jersey, a state already well supplied with natural gas. The two routes proposed by PennEast are particularly detrimental for Hopewell Township and neighboring townships to its north. The original route sought to minimize disturbance of private landowners by traversing public lands where possible. This route disregarded the fact that many of these environmentally sensitive lands had been specifically purchased to protect forests and the wildlife therein. The second route would traverse sensitive lands north of Hopewell Township but within the township. It would co-locate with an existing JCP&L high tension right of way to minimize environmental disturbance. However, that route would necessitate passing near Belle Mountain and then crossing Baldpate Mountain. Both formations are comprised of diabase extending more than 1000 feet below the surface. This particularly hard rock will require significant blasting to excavate an 8-10 foot deep trench that would be required to safely bury a 36 inch pipe.

Our concern is the potential consequences of the blasting. Vibrations are transmitted very efficiently through this diabase over unexpectedly long distances. As an example, at present we feel the vibrations from the blasting at the Trap Rock mine which is more than two miles away on Route 29.

Based on this ongoing experience, we anticipate even stronger vibrations arising from construction of a pipeline trench within 0.25-0.5 miles of the houses along Pleasant Valley Road even if well designed explosive charges are employed. Depending on the structural integrity of the diabase, the vibrations of the blast can be very efficiently transmitted to neighboring houses causing structural damage. Such damage could be manifested by cracking of foundations, tiled surfaces, plaster walls or swimming pools.

Even more troubling is the potential for the blasting vibrations to adversely impact the wells of the homes along Pleasant Valley Road and Valley Road. In this area all homes and farms depend on well water. Unlike wells which draw from alluvial aquifers, these wells are low yielding because they depend on ground water recharge which is delivered through existing sporadic fractures in the diabase. Depending on how the fractures respond to the blast vibrations, the water output of these wells could be increased, decreased or stopped entirely. Failure of a well would be devastating for a homeowner.

Drilling a replacement would be expensive since these wells typically are several hundred feet deep. In addition the new bore may not be successful since the source is not an aquifer but rather a chance pocket of water.

The potential economic benefits for construction of a new single-sited pipeline do not compensate for the impact on the New Jersey communities through which it passes. Here we alert FERC to the issue of blasting vibrations and well viability that is directly related to the underlying geology of the area through which the pipeline passes. After consideration of these environmental and geological concerns, we hope that you will reject the PennEast pipe line proposal.

Their submission is below:

William and Dorthy’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

William and Dorthy’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

Running the pipeline through areas of regular blasting

Penny from Moore Township, PA writes:

I am a very concerned resident of Moore Township and I am strongly
opposed to the PennEast Pipeline. Moore Township formally adopted a resolution opposing the construction of the PennEast Pipeline. More than 240 concerned citizens attended a meeting in opposition to the PennEast Pipeline in November 2014. Would you please recognize and consider the concerns and opposition of so many

I have numerous concerns in regard to the PennEast Pipeline that is proposed to run through a major part of Moore Township.


I live on South Penn Dixie Road and I am a witness to my entire home shaking from blasts that are conducted at local cement companies. This is not a safe environment to construct a gas pipeline, especially with the potential of this being a gateway for additional pipelines. A man down
the street from us lives on Sterner Road in Nazareth and he was contacted about the pipeline going through his property. He has also mentioned that his entire house shakes from the blasts. There is major risk of this pipeline running near Penn Dixie Road and South Penn Dixie Road because of the effects in the ground from blasting that is capable of shaking homes.


The close proximity of the PennEast Pipeline to the Moore Township Elementary School is a danger to over 700 students at the school. The catastrophic risk of an explosion to so many children is unacceptable.

There have been so many newspaper articles reflecting gas pipeline explosions in regard to sinkholes. I am copying a few links and related articles.

There was the explosion in Dunmore, PA – link –

There was a concern mentioned at an Upper Nazareth Township Meeting about
sinkholes: link –

There was another near catastrophic event from a sinkhole – link –

Lehigh Valley Planning Commission noted the area is like swiss cheese –
link: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breakingnews/index.ssf/2014/12/penneast_lays_out_benefits_of.html


I attended the PennEast Pipeline presentation and inquired about alternate routes. They said they have about 50 alternate routes but I was very discouraged to hear that these alternate routes are basically the same route with minor deviations within 50 feet to 1 mile of the proposed path. With this being the case, it is impossible to avoid some of the concerns I have noted including blasting, sinkholes, etc. I believe there should be alternate routes in completely different areas so that a
decision can be made on the very safest route. If you look at the map, it is a more direct and safer route to run the pipeline through Saylorsburg and Bangor. I think FERC should demand PennEast Pipeline to have alternate routes that are in completely different areas so that certain problem areas can be avoided completely.


It is a major concern to me as a resident of Moore Township when PennEast Pipeline representatives cannot answer how significant the explosion of a 36 inch high pressure gas line would be.

An important question of mine is what area would a catastrophic explosion encompass? This is a question that should have been investigated and PennEast probably has the answer but they choose not to answer this question because it is most definitely very concerning. What would the explosion area encompass as more pipelines are run through the gateway, which I have heard is not out of the question, and in fact it is a future plan?

The shut off valves are 10 to 20 miles apart which is another concern. How far would the explosion travel?

In rural areas in Moore Township, there are homeowners with their own excavating equipment that could potentially damage the gas pipeline since it is only 3 feet deep. What would the consequences of this be? No one from PennEast will answer these questions.

They’re running a pipeline in areas where cement companies do blasting? I wish PennEast was more open about what methodology they used in choosing this crazy route….

Penny’s submission is below:

Penn’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

Penn’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

Holly from Kingwood Township, NJ

Holly writes:

I am writing to express my opposition to the PennEast Pipeline Company and their intent to disrupt our beautiful preserved properties, our clean Delaware River, our C-1 Streams and the wildlife that so depends on this eco-system. I have resided in Hunterdon County NJ my entire life because it is absolutely beautiful and a hidden treasure. My concern is for our drinking water due to Kingwood Township reliance on independent wells. We have no public services in this area and rely solely on deep wells.

As our soil is mostly clay and sub soil is rock it is difficult to dig in this area. If PennEast begins to blast we will lose our wells. I am also concerned over the acceptable leakage amounts by this company. If it should leak anywhere in this area due to the sub soil rock formations it will pollute miles of drinking wells due to the fractioning of that rock. Our water is our most precious resource. I do not want PennEast to ruin our environment, my home community or disrupt the wildlife that we re-introduced to our area ie, the Bald Eagle. Many Bald Eagles now call our Delaware River Valley their home. We also have many areas with tons of Indian artifacts, historical sites, and parks. This pipeline will not be of any benefit to our area and I, again, oppose this pipeline.

Holly’s comments – FERC Generated PDF

Holly’s comments – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

More on Baldpate Mountain

C. Sharyn Magee, President of the Washington Crossing Audubon Society, wrote to the FERC backing up the formal submission from her organization:

Because of the extreme ecological sensitivity of Baldpate Mountain, Washington Crossing Audubon Society opposes routing the PennEast pipeline through the JCP&L power line cut that bisects Baldpate
Mountain. An outlier of the Sourland Mountains, Baldpate Mountain contains some of the richest biodiversity in New Jersey. Southern and northern species meet at Baldpate, enriching the flora and fauna. Due to the high quality habitat and the mingling of southern and northern species, Baldpate Mountain has the highest concentration of breeding Neotropical migrants in New Jersey. The thirty-one Neotropical breeding breeding species include thirteen warblers and the Yellow-breasted Chat, two tanagers, three vireos and two Catharus thrushes. Four species are Audubon Watchlist species and twenty-three species are ranked by the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) as birds of conservation concern. An additional 1 39 species use Baldpate Mountain as a migratory stopover in spring and fall or are winter or permanent residents.

Because Baldpate Mountain is long and narrow, it is highly sensitive to disruption from activity on the power line cut that bisects the forest lengthwise. Of special concern is noise from blasting and construction that would penetrate deeply into the forest, interfering with vocal communication between birds at a critical time during the breeding season.

Extending the width of the power line cut would destroy or degrade adjacent breeding habitat along the length of the mountain. Because Baldpate breeding territories are saturated, these birds cannot move further back into the interior forest if disturbed. There is no place for the displaced birds to go. Blue- winged and Chestnut-sided Warblers, species of conservation concern that breed at the forest-power line ecotone, would be especially affected.

The blasting necessary to penetrate the extremely hard diabase substrate has the potential to affect the springs that feed the creeks that originate on Baldpate, disrupting their flow and the animals that depend on them, including the breeding Louisiana Waterthrush, a species of conservation concern.

Given the ecological sensitivity cf Baldpate Mountain, the power line cut should have never been placed there. A through biological inventory and environmental impact statement would dearly show why. The damage to Baldpate should not be compounded by allowing PennEast access for their pipeline.

To get an idea of what’s being described, here’s a google Earth terrain view of the pipeline route going through Baldpate Mountain:

As you can see the pipeline route is cutting right through the preserve along the power line easement – an easement that will also probably have to be widened. You can also see the how the route doesn’t bother to avoid steep slopes but instead just barrels along in a straight line up and down the mountain.

Due to the composition of the bedrock that makes up the Sourland mountains, including Baldpate, PennEast building crews would likely have to blast along much of the route, particularly on the slopes. This will compound the damage significantly both in terms of immediate ecological damage and long term issues such a worsening runoff from rain storms.

A mile or two away from Baldpate we also have the Swan Creek Reservoir, which serves as a primary source of drinking water for Lambertville, NJ. As with Baldpate, there are very steep slopes in this area that would likely require blasting. Take a look at where the pipeline route is in relation to the reservoir:

In fact, Google Earth shows that the pipeline study corridor is less than 200 feet from the reservoir:

Can you imagine blasting into bedrock and then custom welding a 3′ wide high pressure gas pipeline a couple of hundred feet from a drinking water reservoir?

C. Sharyn Magee – FERC Generated PDF

C. Sharyn Magee – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

The Hexenkopf Slopes

Linda from Easton, PA wrote a submission to the FERC that focuses specifically on the Hexenkopf Slopes in PA:

My example is a land mass called Hexenkopf Slopes, a 1.6 billion year old (pre-Cambrian granitic) formation that houses not only Hexenkopf Rock (which is not directly threatened) but acres of forest, wetlands, and steep slopes surrounding it. This area provides a microcosm of a host of issues.
Forest impact: fragmentation of forest will occur when the pipeline, as projected, will move through Hexenkopf Slopes, a unique area cited by Lehigh Valley Planning Commission as an “important natural area.” In this one place (of the MANY places to which PA and NJ residents have alerted you) an estimated 3 Acres of trees will have to be cut (= oxygen for 54 people for a year); in addition, thanks to chemical herbicides in the trench, many nearby trees will die as well. Trees contribute heavily to reducing the carbon dioxide produced by human activity by converting it to the oxygen we breathe. Forests reduce storm water runoff and erosion as well as wind damage.

The steep slopes: the pipeline must drop from an escarpment on the Slopes down a 30% grade to private properties below, which are already subject to a runoff and erosion due to a prior pipeline (the Columbia gas line). With the removal of additional trees and the extreme disturbance of soil — drilling through rock, digging the pipeline route, and compaction of soil from heavy machinery – the erosion and runoff will be extremely exacerbated. During the storms of 2005, 2006, and 2012 runoff was so heavy it drove piles of loose stones from an access road off onto the very busy Raubsville Rd. and onto the farmland across Raubsville Rd. Trees intercept gallons and gallons of water, preventing flash flooding. Once this 100-foot wide track is compacted, runoff will not be able to be stopped. The effects will be cumulative and permanent. Our downhill neighbors’ residences will be horribly damaged.

To make matters worse, the Hexenkopf tracts through which the line passes have been preserved under Open Space programs with the County and the Township; the pipeline thus obviates the will of the people in preserving a natural climate-controlling carbon dioxide-to-oxygen mechanism. This is an unlawful taking by a private company for its own profit-making purposes and renders the land virtually worthless.

The forest is home to flora and fauna that will lose habitat because no tree is permitted to grow on the right of way, and studies show that invasive plants are the flora that manage to live on such disturbed soil. Native fauna do not eat the invasives. A study of the impact on native- dwelling and migratory birds and other wildlife needs to be made to assure they are not adversely impacted.

With the blasting that will be required to bring a 36” diameter pipe over a granite outcropping and down a 30% grade, there can be untold damage to groundwater/aquifers in the region, aquifers that feed local wells. A very large percentage of the population of Williams Township derives their water from wells or springs. And where would all the rocks from the blasting be placed? On areas where even those piles kill the protective vegetation that has grown there for thousands of years?

Wetlands on the edges of the Slopes suffer irremediable damage when heavy machines that need refueling or lubrication plow through the habitat of many microfauna, fauna, and birds and when additional space is taken for “temporary workspace.” Springs once destroyed cannot be resuscitated. Endangered species, such as the bog turtle, that lose habitat cannot be resuscitated either.

One of the headwaters of Fry’s Run, a High Quality-Cold Water Fishery and a Migratory Fishery and a tributary to the Delaware River, emanates from the northern base of Hexenkopf Slopes. Disturbance of this water source would further affect a stream that has achieved high quality status.
The cultural and historical remnants of early indigenous peoples have been treated by other speakers.

This one segment of the route encompasses a host of challenges which lead to the conclusion that this pipeline is totally inappropriate. We ask FERC to deny this application for a project that brings no benefit to the people of Williams Township but does inflict horrendous destruction that can never be remedied.

You’ll hear similar stories of other unique areas along the pipeline route that have their own problems – for example I highlighted a post earlier from the Washington Crossing Audubon Society about the threats to Baldpate Mountain, another unique preserved piece of land threatened by the pipeline.

Read Linda’s full submission below:

Linda from Easton PA – FERC Generated PDF

Linda from Easton PA – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site