An emphasis on Speed

One David Bojczak posted a submission to the FERC today. It appears to be another postcard dump, this time it’s copies of 126 post cards submitted by union members in support of the pipeline.

Googling David leads you to The Conti Group, a construction company that focuses on energy projects. So his support of the pipeline makes sense.

But go on there site and you read some troubling stories. For example, they worked on a recent Transco pipeline project:

The Challenge:

Transporting natural gas around the country requires amazing efficiency and effectiveness. With thousands of miles of gas pipelines intricately networked underneath America’s soils, quality gas compressor stations, which pressurize natural gas so it is capable of moving through pipelines at high speeds, are essential to gas transportation. The Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Corporation (Transco) asked Conti to build such a station.

The Solution:

The Conti Group worked on an aggressive, fast-track schedule to provide Transco with a quality, fully-operational gas compressor station. Our workforces performed a minimum of ten hours per day, six days per week to complete construction on schedule. During this time, the team performed all civil work, including 1,900 LF of storm drainage piping, grading, excavation, paving, landscaping, over 2,000 CY of reinforced concrete foundations, and structural work on several buildings. We also installed a 69,000 KV electrical substation generator, transformers and switchgear, grounding grids, two 7,500 horsepower Centrifugal Compressor Motors, and welded process and gas lines of all diameters and wall thickness. The work resulted in a capable compressor station constructed in quickly and cost effectively.

Conti was responsible for this turnkey project and performed construction activities, scheduling, Health and Safety, QA/QC documentation, facility testing, finished painting, cleaning, commissioning, and equipment and systems training.

Does this sound like a good idea to you? They’re building a massive natural gas compressor station. Under pressure from Transco to get it done fast, they create “an aggressive, fast-track schedule” where “our workforces performed a minimum of ten hours per day, six days per week to complete construction on schedule”.

Imagine living near a compressor station which was created by tired union workers who were pushed to work 10 hours a day six days a week.

This is the type of firm that will likely be bidding on the PennEast pipeline work should it be approved.

David’s submission is below:

David’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

David’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

Winifred tells it like it is

Winifred from Holland Township, NJ has a whole lot to say about to the FERC about this pipeline, the scoping process, and a whole lot more. It’s so well-written I’m going to include the entire text here, but I want to highlight one piece in particular because it strikes so close to how myself and many others feel:

“I object to the construction of the Penn East Pipeline for many reasons. The biggest reason is that I love my land and the birds, plants and animals I share it with. Removing the trees and tainting the water that runs through it and below it will damage it forever. It will never be the same.” (emphasis mine).

The complete text of her submission:

My name is Winifred Waldron. I am a landowner in Holland Township New jersey and would be directly impacted by the Penn East Project. My property lies between mile posts 82 and 83 and is within 2 tenths of a mile from mile post 83- and I was denied the opportunity to speak at last evening’s FERC scoping meeting. After the meeting I was told that there were 20 people still on the list waiting to speak including me. Later, I learned that there were about the same number of people denied the opportunity to speak at the Trenton meeting as well- totaling at a minimum 40 people. If we were all given the mere 3 minutes allotted to speak, it would amount to another 120 minutes – essentially the length of a scoping meeting. It goes to show that the number of FERC scoping meetings held in New Jersey were insufficient. There were 3 meetings in Pennsylvania and only 2 in New Jersey. Another meeting should be held in New Jersey, about halfway between the two ends of the pipeline that might traverse the region, so that the people who wanted to talk will be provided that opportunity. Furthermore, the recently announced route changes, there should be additional meetings for these people affected. As a landowner denied the opportunity to speak my piece, I know how those landowners must feel at not having the opportunity to prepare and speak out- on the record.

I was anxious to speak and having the public hear my concerns – on the record. I have been waiting more than 2 months to speak. I wrote and revised my concerns until I was able to put them into a succinct speech that would fit into the 3 minute time slot. I have lost all of that time and energy spent preparing, similar to the land that I could lose if this pipeline is approved. I have been monitoring the FERC submissions since the fall, I see how many come in and how thorough and lengthy some of the submissions are. I know that only a few people see those submissions. Given a chance to speak, I might have been heard by more. My husband and I attended Penn East informational meetings in good faith and expecting that our concerns would be heard and questions answered. It did not happen. Instead the Penn East Representatives would send us from table to table and eventually explain that the person that I needed to speak to was not at that meeting but should be at the next.

My husband and I both took time off from work to attend 3 of those meetings. We never had our concerns addressed. Finally, at the last meeting we attended, I explained to Medha Kochlar from FERC that I felt that my concerns were not being addressed and my questions were not being answered. She kindly introduced me to, Alisa Harris from Penn East. Ms Kochlar also recommended that I submit my concerns to FERC. She cautioned that I would not hear back from them as they gather the information for review, but do not answer questions. She also told me that there would be the scoping meetings sponsored by FERC where I would be able to express my concerns publicly. She pointed at the flow sheet and said that they would most likely be held after the holidays. She was right about being after the holidays, but she misspoke bout having the opportunity to express my concerns.

Well, I submitted my concerns on paper, but now I have more to say. I am a landowner directly impacted by the proposed Penn East pipeline. The 400 foot survey area bisects my property. It starts approximately 30 feet from my house and runs through the middle of my backyard. It could take out my fence on 3 sides, many trees as the fence line and one end of the yard are wooded, some fruit trees, my gardens – I grow my own vegetables, my strawberry patch, my onions, garlic and shallots, my blackberry patch, my raspberries, my coneflowers, the garden for my sunflowers, my fire pit and my barn! It could be within 50 feet of my well. I already have some arsenic in my well water. The level bumped up a bit after the earthquakes. The excavation and construction for the pipeline could easily raise the arsenic level up to the toxic range. Death by arsenic- not my first choice. But then, given the proximity to my house, if there were an accident, such as an explosion, BOOM! I would be incinerated. Hmm… I don’t think I like option two any better. I could lose a lot to this pipeline.
I work from home and one of my favorite things about working from home is watching the wildlife. In the morning a young hawk comes to visit about the same time as I sit down to my desk. It perches in the trees – trees that will be displaced by the pipeline – with its keen eyes scanning the yard. I might make a noise or get up to take a closer look through the window and it will turn and look right at me with those keen eyes that appear to miss nothing.

Later in the day, the older hawks start soaring in the sky above my house. The black birds who normally sit at the tops of the pine trees guarding the yard from intruders will become frantic and start calling out in alarm. A group of them will gather and try to chase the predators away. Unfettered, the hawks just fly higher up into sky.

When I cast my eyes towards the ground, I see Wild Turkeys jogging through the yard or the deer sleeping lazily under the trees. A fawn was born and lived in my flower garden for a summer. Now grown, it is not bothered by our presence in the yard and will keep munching away –helping itself to the plants and fruit we grow here.

I love to sit at my desk and listen to the birds chirping during the day and hear the sound of the stream, babbling down the hill to the Harihokake Creek. When my day has ended, I love to relax on the deck at night and listen to the frogs chirping and watching the bats flitter about diving and catching bugs or looking out into the back yard to see the fireflies light up the woods and sky. I object to the construction of the Penn East Pipeline for many reasons. The biggest reason is that I love my land and the birds, plants and animals I share it with. Removing the trees and tainting the water that runs through it and below it will damage it forever. It will never be the same.

I know that Penn East promises to return my land to the way it was before the pipeline construction took place. I am told that after construction, it will be hard to tell that the line is even exists. There is no way they can keep that promise. It is an empty promise. A lie. I do not trust Penn East. All of my interactions with them have been negative. From the land agent Mr. Gilbert and his threats of eminent domain to the Penn East representatives at the company sponsored meetings who took our information and questions and promised that we would hear from someone from the company who would supply the answers. The last of whom was Ms. Harris who at the request of Ms. Kochlar from FERC took my name, phone number and Email address and promised that I would get a call back in 48 hours. I did not get an Email until February, it was not from her and it was to ask me if I still had questions!? Of course I do, no one took the time to answer them yet! At this point, I am not sure that I would believe what they have to say anyway. Their stories have changed so much. From the size of the pipe, to the width of the corridor and the location of the pipe on my property- which was moved closer to my house and now bisects the land! They made no effort to follow boundaries or edges. Not to mention the lack of documentation of the wetland, category 1 stream and the extent of the slope of the hill to the stream. They have been evasive and dishonest. I do not trust Penn East.

Nor do I trust Tetra Tech. I know it is a member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition and represents Marcellus shale to the government. It is also involved in the natural gas and pipeline industry. I question the ability of the consultants to be unbiased. With the recent news of Tetra Tech’s biased decisions and questionable business practices- destroying evidence? I am thinking that this concern is valid. Even without the illegal activities recently brought to light, just its membership to the Marcellus Shale Coalition should prevent them from being environmental consultants for a natural gas line transporting product from the Marcellus shale region. It is a conflict of interest. Although I am not surprised that FERC would allow it – it has a reputation of being pro-pipeline and pro-infrastructure. I am even less surprised after I read that FERC regards landowners as “problems” for pipeline infrastructure in the power point presentation by FERC “A View from the Beltway”. I am NOT sorry to be such a problem. I have told my children and patients that it is important to self-advocate. I, as do many of the other landowners affected, have a multitude of concerns about this pipeline and not only about its effect on Me but on Our World and the futures of Our Children. I will speak out and I will be heard.

Take the “No Action” alternative and do not approve the Penn East Pipeline Project.

Thank You for Listening

Winifred’s submission is available below. Please visit it to see the lovely pictures she’s included:

Winifred’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

Winifred’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

Dream home is nearing completion – but so is the PennEast proposal

Henry from Stockton, NJ is just a few weeks away from completing his dream home in Delaware Township. Unfortunately his dream is located fairly close to both the original and proposed pipeline routes.

I am weeks away &om completing my dream home on a piece of property located close the the proposed route of the PennEast pipeline project. My property is between the original route and the proposed alternate route of the pipeline. My property is located at Block 19 Lot 24 in Delaware Township, NJ.

One reason we decided to build here is that almost the entire immediate area surrounding my home are properties in Farmland Preservation. We enjoy the rural character of the area and would not like to see it marred by a new pipeline right of way. I feel our community was directly targeted because so many properties are in preservation.

I do have some concerns about what could happen to my home and family as well as my drinking water well. I believe the public need for this project has been greatly overstated by PennEast since New Jersey, where the pipeline will terminate, already enjoys the low’est residential natural gas prices in the region. The corporation “needs” the pipeline for profits, not for the benefit of the citizens in the area. I also find it very ironic that residential gas delivery will not even be offered to the very communities that will have to be traversed by the pipeline.

There is a very sad and deep irony buried in Henry’s story. If you google his block and lot information in Delaware Township you’ll land on the minutes of a Delaware Township municipal meeting that took place several years ago. The topic was variances they needed from the town and the NJ DEP to install their septic system. They noted that it took two years to complete the NJ DEP approval process.

Think about that for a moment. An individual trying to get a septic system installed on their lot needs to go through a lengthy process that takes years to get environmental approval for. For just one house. Meanwhile PennEast says that the entire pipeline process will be done in the same amount of time!

What kind of planet do we live on that approving an individual septic system takes two years but approving a pipeline sails through the system?

Henry also shares his eye-witness account of the 36″ gas pipeline explosion in Edison, NJ in the 90s. One part talks about why it took hours to get the pipeline gas flow turned off:

The valves on this pipeline normally operate in power assist mode, in which the gas pressure powers a small motor that opens and closes the valve. Normally, it is a seven- to 10-minute procedure. This night the rupture had reduced pressure in the line such that the valve would not automatically turn. However, even if there had been sufficient pressure, firefighters were concerned that the natural gas vented off from this valve during the automatic valve-closing procedure would be ignited by the intense heat from the fireball.

South Plainfield Volunteer Fire Department and TETCO employees had to close the valve manually. The firefighters, in four- or five-member shifts, took turns on the four-foot-diameter hand-wheel, moving it six to eight inches at a pull against the flow of gas through the line. The heat was such that the reflective material on their turnouts burned away and the bottoms of their fire boots melted. It took 752 turns and 2 1/2 hours to close the valve.

Henry’s submission is available below.

Henry’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

Henry’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate site

Pipelines criss-crossing the landscape

Maria from Wyoming, PA writes to the FERC to remind us that this isn’t about just one pipeline. There are many that have already been built, many more proposed, and some already approved. We may soon all face with what she already lives with in Luzerne County.

I am currently surrounded by the expanding gas industry infrastructure that has invaded my township and has disrupted the enjoyment of my property and the surrounding natural and scenic areas. UGIES already has a large high pressure Auburn II pipeline in close proximity to my home as well as a high pressure pipeline
interconnect, they wish to call a gate station. None of this current infrastructure built by UGI has benefited the residents of the area, and in fact thousands of residents including myself, do not even have natural gas service available. UGI has stated there are no plans for expanding local service from these facilities or any of its proposed future pipeline projects in my area. In addition, the Williams Transco pipeline is a few hundred feet from my home.

I have great concerns over the cumulative effect of all of these pipeline projects on the air quality and the threat of a lethal explosion looms over my home. The area I live in is not a remote desolate area as UGIES would like FERC to believe. I live in an R-1 zone which stands for residential, not remote. I have watched the destruction of wetlands around my home as these pipeline projects have cut through them, as well as increased erosion and water runoff problems on the mountainous terrain where I live. I fear more irreparable damage will be done by yet another pipeline adjacent to the existing ones in my area.

I have seen on my own personal property, the lack of competence when UGI simply needed to provide a new electrical service line underground to my home. They did not evaluate the situation and the environmental issues for this small project by comparison, and caused my home to be flooded and property to be damaged, by not providing proper drainage and releasing an underground water source into my home. In addition, to this present day they never performed any proper restoration to my property. Using this experience as a reference, how can I possibly believe that UGIES will have the ethics and competence to handle such a huge undertaking as the PennEast pipeline? They simply will not.

In considering the scope of this proposed project, I urge FERC to consider the environmental impact and damage in a cumulative way. This is one of several existing and proposed pipelines to invade the area. The track record has been poor so far from what I have seen. I am living with it in my back yard and speak from personal experience. I also fear for the Susquehanna River Levee system as this pipeline project proposes tunneling in close proximity to it and under the river itself. The history of flooding in the Wyoming Valley is widely documented and this levee system is the greatest form of protection.

In conclusion, I sincerely hope that FERC can truly look at this project with objective and impartial eyes, despite the fact that your agency is funded by fees paid to you by the gas Companies themselves, such as UGI. Please protect the citizens of Luzerne County PA as well as all the citizens along this proposed PennEast pipeline route

You can read her submission below:

Maris’ submission – FERC Generated PDF

Maris’ submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

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

Running pipelines near schools

Craig from Bath, PA informs the FERC:

I am writing this in hopes of ferc NOT allowing the proposed penn east pipeline to happen. Not only do I have safety concerns about this pipeline running adjacent to Moore elementary school where my daughter attends, but also the long term affects it will have on the watersheds, forests, and landscape that are irreversible.

There are no long term study’s that conclude that there are no side effects to the families who live within a certain proximity of these gas lines. That in itself is scary, but than there is the possibility of leaking gas, valve stations, blowdowns, or an explosion of unknown proportions along the pipeline. Would any of the voting members of ferc be ok with a gas line running within 3/10 of a mile from there house or that close to their child’s school?

The impact on the local ecosystems and watersheds should be enough of a reason to not allow this pipeline to happen. I know just how important preserving our community is first hand as I have two farms in my family that are preserved. Many residents have fought many many years to keep our township rural and agricultural. I am sure this applies to all the other townships along the proposed path of this pipeline, not just Moore township.

The scars left behind after a pipeline is installed will never, ever go away. Swaths through forests, access roads, natural springs being compromised, and change in water run offs are just a few examples of how a pipeline destroy local ecosystems. The effects on the local wildlife are unmeasurable as well.

No local community is even benefiting from this pipeline. All the gas will be shipped overseas to the highest bidder, leaving the gas company richer and thousands upon thousands of folks homes and communities with an everlasting scar reminding them of the greed of the gas company and the government.

I understand the whole imminent domain but that was put into place back in the 1800s to be used only if there was a benefit to the community or government by “taking” someone’s land. Well, doesn’t this seem mighty unconstitutional? One company benefits, while local communities and ecosystems suffer forever.

If anyone cares about the voices of the little people effected most by this proposed pipe line, I would encourage anyone from ferc or the gas company to come out into the local communities and talk to people and see just how many “stop fracking” or “stop penn east pipeline” signs adorn the local community yards and shops. I was at a town hall meeting last month with 240+ attendees and no one was there to represent the gas company or ferc. What a shame.

Just vote NO NO NO. Stop the penn east pipeline

As I mentioned in an earlier post the pipeline is slated to pass within just over a thousand feet of West Amwell Elementary school. It really does look like PennEast picked “cheapest” as their route criteria instead of “safest, best for the environment”….

Craig’s submission is available below:

Craig’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

Craig’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site