The 400ft KILL ZONE

I think Nora in Stockton NJ has a reason to be upset….

My 24 acre farm abuts the proposed route of the PennEast Pipeline. I have major concerns about the consequences of this pipeline coming so close to my house, drinking water well & horses.

1.At a recent township meeting in Delaware Township I learned that there is a 400ft KILL ZONE around the Pipeline! This means that if there were a leak, the explosion could kill everything within a 400 ft. radius .My house and horses are within the KILL ZONE. I believe that it is a violation of my human rights to force me to live in fear of my husband, horses & myself dying from a pipeline breach. How would I be able to live knowing of this possibility? This violation of my human rights would be for a private company’s profits

2.This concern is not unwarranted! Just recently, on January 15th, 2015, there was a natural gas line break near Bellis Rd & Shire roads in Holland Township, NJ. This gas line break resulted in a half mile radius evacuation. This gas line was 12 inches in diameter. The proposed PennEast Pipeline is 36 inches in diameter. If there is a break in the PennEast Pipeline how large would the radius of evacuation be? Once again, why should I be forced to live within a EVACUATION ZONE of a pipeline for a private companies profit. Additionally, how would we evacuate our horses & live stock. Once again, should my horses lives be endangered for a private company’s profits.

That Kill Zone perimeter is pretty terrifying when you look at some of the PennEast proposed route in Pennsylvania:

First hand account of living near a pipeline eruption

Susan in Milford NJ lives near the spot where a natural gas pipeline erupted in Holland Township, NJ:

I live about 1000’ from the spot where the pipeline in Holland Township erupted yesterday afternoon. My house vibrated, the smell was noxious and the sound was like a freight train running through my houses. I had a headache and chest pain and felt nauseous the rest of the day. It was difficult to get reliable information about what was going on and I was given conflicting advice about the need to evacuate. So from my personal experience, no one can persuade me that natural gas pipelines are safe. This pipeline was only 12” in diameter and it makes my hair stand on end to think what it would have been like had it been 36” as proposed by PennEast. The risk is unacceptable.

Like the rest of us she also wonders how the hell protected, preserved land can be stolen by eminent domain:

My property abuts NJ Green Acres land that is SUPPOSED to be protected from development. My tax dollars paid for this purchase, just as my tax dollars paid for open space and preserved farmland in Holland Township, so I am a stakeholder in this application. It is most egregious that this designation means nothing when greedy corporations like Penn East and its partners decide to TARGET preserved land for ravaging the natural habitats and prime agricultural soils to provide unnecessary and redundant transit for more fossil fuels than we need. The money spent on shoving this project down the throats of Holland Township residents could be better used to develop clean renewable energy sources instead of destroying critical animal habitats, pristine waterways and adding more serious run-off problems to the Delaware River basin.

Her full set of comments are below:

Susan from Milford – FERC Generated PDF

Susan from Milford – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

West Amwell Township Planning Board conveys their “strident opposition” to the pipeline

It’s funny that you can’t open a newspaper or watch the TV news without hearing another story of corrupt politicians, inept government, or just plain all around incompetence in the public sector. Yet how often do you hear a story about a government body doing the right thing?

Robert E. Tomenchok Jr, chairman of the West Amwell Township Planning Board, shows us government done right:

The West Amwell Township Planning Board wishes to convey our strident opposition to the proposed PennEast pipeline.

While we favor strongly the development of domestic energy resources, and support strenuously the free enterprise system, there are numerous aspects about this project with which we object.
Specifically:

1) The proposed route appears to have been chosen with little or no regard to the proximity of schools, emergency facilities, housing, wetlands, woodlands, historic structures/features, et cetera. The Planning Board strives to ensure that we leave West Amwell in better condition than we found it, and this project fails this simple test.

2) In most every aspect of governance home rule continues to be eroded, being slowly and systematically replaced by centralized control. The fact that we have so little control over such important decisions is aggravating, demoralizing, and causes many intelligent, caring citizens to eschew public service. Were it not for the fact that the pipeline crosses the Delaware River, it would have appropriate local input and control.

3) The threat of the exercise of Eminent Domain to secure land for a for-profit enterprise flies in the face of the free enterprise system. While we recognize that there exists a need for government to intervene in rare cases where intransigence stymies the public good, we feel that this project does not rise to that level.

4) The virginal nature of this pipeline should dictate even greater scrutiny. History shows that once a route has been established additional pipelines can and will follow. West Amwell is a rural community of mostly small farms with two large and two small housing developments. The proposed route has drawn objection across the demographic spectrum – from full time farmers to metropolitan commuters who come home to sleep in their tract homes.

Read the full submission below:

West Amwell Township Planning Board – FERC Generated PDF

West Amwell Township Planning Board – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

We’ve got sinkholes too!

It isn’t just earthquake and rain to worry about. Apparently Pennsylvania is serious sinkhole country to boot. Judith from Easton PA writes:

I am writing to register my strong opposition to the proposed PennEast pipeline. My main concern are the sinkholes that are in the area of
the pipeline,the destruction of the trees,and the run off down the mountain of hexenkopf and into our property and the farm across the street. This will affect Fry’s Run and THE Delaware River…
We have the Columbia Pipeline very close to us and know that you have already approved The LEIDY SOUTHEAST expansion project which will deliver gas from the same start point to the same end point…WHEN WILL THIS STOP???

An interesting thing to note here as well is her mention of the other pipelines already constructed and those in planning. From what I’ve read the FERC process does not consider pipeline projects all together to assess their aggregate impact on the area. Instead they study each one isolation as if none of the others exist.

This is glaring hole in the FERC process that makes the PennEast pipeline looks much better than it actually is in reality. Consider all the proposed pipelines simultaneously and you see that:

a) The supposed need for “more pipelines” goes down as you keep proposing…yet more pipelines.

b) The environmental impact is going to be much greater.

c) The percentage risk of catastrophe goes up with every pipeline built.

You can see Judith’s submission here:

Judith East PA – FERC Generated PDF

Judith East PA – FERC Generated PDF Alternate site

Pipelines and fault lines don’t mix

I didn’t know we have earthquakes in NJ, but apparently we do. Laura from Milford, NJ writes:

I am opposed to the PennEast Pipeline on the grounds that its route is directly over the largest fault line in NJ, the Ramapo fault, where there have been four recorded earthquakes in the last decade.

The strongest of these, on August 26, 2003, at magnitude 3.8, “was felt by residents with high intensity,” according Won-Young Kim, senior research scientist at Columbia University – http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/LCSN

The pipeline industry has made no real progress in improving pipeline safety in the event of an earthquake. A recent article in the Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, entitled, “Seismic vulnerability of gas and liquid buried pipelines” reported:

“In the past, pipelines have been shown to suffer heavy damages when loaded by seismic actions. And yet, despite the evolution in the anti- seismic techniques and the progress in the seismic design, relevant damages to pipelines are still being observed.”

This bodes ill for land and water quality in the vicinity of the proposed pipeline.

Her FERC submission is here:

Laura from Milford – FERC Generated PDF

Laura from Milford – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

Safety Concerns

A big point of contention between public opinion and the PennEast people is on the topic of safety.  People in the path of this pipeline are worried about this thing. It’s a 3 foot wide high pressure pipeline buried just a couple of feet under the surface of the ground, carrying a billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.  PennEast assures us this pipeline is “safe”, or at least as safe as they can make it.

But all things are relative, and safety is not an absolute but a continuum.  It’s not just a question of how statistically likely a breach or explosion of the pipeline is; it’s also about the damage that would be caused if the unthinkable did happen.  I grew up with natural gas in my family home, and my family accepted the risk of small 2″ gas pipelines coming into our home for the convenience and relative cheapness of it.  But 2″ is one thing.  A three foot pipeline carrying a billion cubic feet of natural gas PER DAY is another thing entirely.  I don’t want such a beast near my house.  And neither does Cara from Stockton.

I am an extremely concerned citizen from Delaware Township,NJ and am writing to express my strong opposition to the PennEast pipeline. My concerns are numerous. I am not sure what more that I can say that has not ALREADY been said here over and over, not only by other concerned citizens but by respected scientists and educators who understand the damage that this pipeline will do to our environment a lot better than I.

My greatest opposition to this pipeline is our safety and our health. The news has been more than alarming. A pipeline in West Virginia exploded this past Monday making it the fourth accident this month! I live on a property adjacent to my Mother’s. The alternate route that PennEast has proposed would run directly through her property, land that has been in our family for several generations. What can you do to assure us that she will be protected from one of these explosions? She is a two time cancer survivor and has chronic asthma which I saw on the EPA website can be exacerbated by gas emissions. Please tell me that she did not survive stage 4-lung cancer to now be subjected to possible explosions and contaminated water in our wells from a pipeline that we do NOT want or need?

The pipeline would also be approximately 2 miles from Delaware Township School, our local Elementary and Middle School. Our community does not have adequate emergency responders or resources should there be an evacuation or large-scale emergency. In addition, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) only has 135 inspectors to oversee the 2.6 million miles of pipeline. It is strikingly evident that they cannot maintain what is already in existence!

Read her complete comments here:

Cara from Stockton – FERC Generated PDF