A proposal to expand the Algonquin natural gas pipeline was described as a threat to the health and safety of residents during a meeting organized by over 50 groups that opposed the project on Dec. 11 at the Hendrick Hudson Free Library in Montrose.
Another meeting, which was also co-sponsored by the Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion, was scheduled for the following evening at the Mahopac Library.
Spectra Energy is proposing the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) project that would transport natural gas through Rockland County, cross the Hudson River and enter Westchester County near the Indian Point nuclear facility and continue through Putnam County into Connecticut and through New England. The company has compressor stations at Stony Point in Rockland County and in Southeast in Putnam County
Part of the plan is to construct a converter site and have the connecting cables in Verplanck and Buchanan and construct additional compressor stations in Stony Point and Southeast. Spectra Energy is seeking to purchase property owned by Con Edison in Verplanck where the cables would make landfall
The company has said the project, which would require state and federal approvals, would have several benefits including relieving power north-south bottlenecks, provide renewal energy from upstate New York, and reduce polluting emissions statewide
On Dec. 11 more than 100 residents listed to comments from a panel that included Matt Walker, educational outreach director of the Clean Air Council; Wilma Subra, a chemist and microbiologist who is a former vice chair of the EPA National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology; Gary Shaw from the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition; and Richard Kuprewicz of president of AccuFacts, who is a pipeline safety expert.
Kuprewicz said the AIM project seeks to replace 26-inch natural gas transmission pipes to 42-inch pipes, located Indian Point and which could present a dangerous situation in the event of an explosion.
If residents wanted to lobby FERC to stop the project, they need to know that the agency regulates the placement of natural gas pipelines, Kuprewicz said. “FERC is a citing agency, not a safety agency,” he said.
Kuprewicz said he also had health and safety concerns about compressor stations, which prepare the gas transported through pipelines.
Shaw said he was particularly concerned about an explosion in a pipeline near Indian Point. The resulting radiation would cause damage for many years from radiation from spent fuel rods stored at Indian Point, he said.
Walker said one of his concerns with the project was natural gas itself, which is a source of air pollution because of its high levels of radon. Natural gas radon is a much worse polluter of air than the carbon generated by other fuels, he said.
Compressor stations also pose a risk to the public’s health because of air pollution from the toxic emissions they generate, Walker said. For example, air pollution levels are high in Pennsylvania, which has between 500 and 800 compressors, he said.
Leaks are another problem with natural gas pipelines and compressor stations, Walker said. Compressor stations in Utah have 9 percent natural gas leakage rates, he said.
Subra outlined several damaging aspects she believed were associated with natural gas. Hazards are posed both from the compressor stations and leaking pipelines, she said. Compressor stations “degrade the air quality,” she said. Compressor stations can cause several diseases, including cancers, she said. This is a time “to do something about it now” to stoop the project, she said.