Tuesday, JULY 28th, 7:00PM
Hopewell Valley Central High School
We’re asking EVERYONE to show up to this one and bring your concerns about health and safety! Ask the Board of Health to make a strong statement to FERC that the PennEast pipeline would pose too high a risk to us all. We’ll post more information about this event soon.
In the meantime, keep reading….
Local landowner takes FERC to task over safety
This FERC comment from HTCAPP member Kim Robinson came through this week. One fo many great FERC comments from Kim; she really makes a strong statement.
“July 11, 2015
Re: Docket PF15-1
Dear FERC Commissioners,
In August 2014, we received a letter from the PennEast Pipeline Company informing us that our property had been identified as an “abutting” property in relation to its proposed pipeline project. As a concerned land owner and member of the public, I have tried to participate in the FERC’s established process to express concerns regarding the project. Unfortunately, either the established process is flawed, or my primary concerns are simply being ignored by all parties, including the FERC.
The FERC hosted a few “Scoping” meetings, including the one I attended on February 25, 2015 in West Trenton, NJ. Not only was there a severe shortage of parking, requiring some people to park quite far from the venue (one friend had to park about eight blocks away, and many who could not walk that far had no choice but to go home), but there was not enough time for those who COULD attend to speak, and the FERC did not schedule another meeting for that location or nearby. Nevertheless, I arrived an hour before the meeting began and I did get to speak. My entire verbal comment was regarding how PennEast plans to build and install a physically safer pipe for individuals who live in a densely populated area than it will for individuals who live in a rural area. So the child living in, say, Bethlehem, PA will be provided with a thicker (and therefore SAFER) pipeline than will my child. I consider this to be clear discrimination, and I said so at the Scoping meeting.
On February 27, 2015, I submitted a written scoping comment to the PennEast docket on the FERC’s website (http://elibrary.ferc.gov:1/IDMWS/file_list.asp?document_id=14307436) regarding various aspects of pipeline safety – specifically detailing the discriminatory differences in construction as mentioned above, but also discussing the psychological impacts of living near a pipeline, recent cyber security breaches, lack of knowledge and withholding of knowledge on the part of PennEast, issues with the current calculation of Potential Impact Radii, and the fact that the pipeline industry as a whole has YET to conquer the basic task of using proper materials and construction techniques. As I show in that earlier comment, only 25.6% of gas transmission HCA failures are due to third party interference. The majority are due to pipeline materials, construction methods, equipment and incorrect operations.
I looked forward to PennEast’s response to my many concerns. But when in March they posted their responses to the scoping comments, not only did they have me listed in Table 4 (Other Stakeholders) rather than Table 3 (Property Owners and Abutters), but they did not list or address my specific concerns at all! They simply had my name in a long list of names under a category they called:
“Health and Safety
– Potential for pipeline leaks, methane release
– Pipeline proximity to schools”
which was followed by general language about how they will follow Federal regulations and how PennEast will be part of the 1-Call system, etc. It was no response at all, and had absolutely no meaning when it comes to the specific concerns I raised. See this “response” below:
PennEast will comply with the pipeline safety standards established by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) (49 CFR §190-199). Pipelines are the safest, most environmentally-friendly and efficient mode of transporting energy, according to PHMSA. Data shows that while natural gas demand has increased, serious pipeline incidents have decreased by 90 percent over the past three decades alone, primarily as a result of significant efforts by pipeline companies to upgrade and modernize their infrastructure. Transportation by pipeline is the safest mode of transportation.
Safety is PennEast’s highest priority when designing pipelines. PennEast adopts design features and operating practices that meet or exceed stringent industry and regulatory standards. PennEast will regularly walk the PennEast Pipeline, conduct
leak surveys and send sensor equipment through the line to make sure integrity has not been compromised. PennEast will continuously monitor (24/7/365) how much gas is transported through the system, operating pressures and temperatures throughout the system, and other critical operating data. This is done in real-time through our gas control center. Should any unusual data surface, PennEast will immediately dispatch field personnel to address the issue and protect the community. Additionally, the pipeline will be clearly marked at all road crossings, creeks, property lines, and fence lines to minimize the potential for third party damage. PennEast will be a member of the national 1-Call system (Dial 811) that requires anyone performing excavations to call 3 days prior so that the line can be located and marked in the area of excavation. Local emergency response and management personnel will receive emergency response training prior to the Project being placed into service and on an ongoing basis thereafter. Necessary information and instructions regarding the facilities will be provided to local emergency response and management personnel. A plan will be in place for coordination between PennEast and local emergency response and management personnel in the event of an incident. PennEast is designing the Project to exceed federal safety regulations in many important areas, including: The pipe material will meet and generally exceed the API-5L requirements; Class 2 pipe will be installed in all Class 1 locations in order to increase safety factory; 100 percent nondestructive inspection of mainline welds (for example 49 CRF 192 requires only 10 percent of the welds to be tested in Class 1 locations); and Prior to placing the line into service, the pipe will be hydrostatically tested at a maximum pressure that will exceed industry standards identified in 49 CFR 192. The high grade steel utilized in the manufacture of the pipeline makes pipe deterioration less of a concern for projects such as PennEast. No pesticides will be used in the maintenance of the pipeline ROW. Resource Report 11 – Reliability and Safety will evaluate the overall safety of the Project through construction and pipeline operation and presents the extensive safety measures, emergency procedures, and oversight that will be adopted and implemented for the Project. I would be thrilled if you could point out where in this “response” any of my specific concerns from my scoping comment are addressed, but I know that’s an impossible task.
In April, PennEast issued supplemental responses to the scoping comments. Again, I got my hopes up. Again, they were dashed. Again, I was not listed in the Abutters’ Table 3, but in Table 4 for other “stakeholders”. Again, the safety boilerplate response appeared, not addressing ANY of my specific concerns.
So I must ask. Does the FERC REALLY want an effective process wherein landowners’, abutters’ and other stakeholders’ questions and concerns are addressed by the pipeline companies, or is the FERC satisfied with simply the APPEARANCE of such a process? Based on my experience so far, I’d say the latter.
I think it’s clear that if the FERC returns anything but a No-Build decision on this ludicrous project, the matter WILL be brought to court, and FERC’s processes, which from my own experience can only be described as a sham, will be brought under scrutiny. And if God-forbid a safety incident occurs before the project is shut down, I think it’s also clear that the individual liability of the FERC commissioners themselves will be brought into question for approving such a project where numerous safety concerns were not addressed.