Comment Concerning the Danger of adding the Proposed Spectra Energy Natural Gas Pipeline, Delivered at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Scoping Meeting, May 18, 2016, Milford, MA.
If this meeting were happening in 1963 when the current old bare steel pipeline was installed who would be here? Perhaps a few farmers looking for compensation or expressing concerns about the impact on their livelihood. That was then and now is now. Today these areas are heavily populated and we know much more about the effects of gas leaks. And now Spectra Energy is proposing to build a second high pressure line as close as 20’ from the old one. I contend that this idea is irresponsible given what we know.
I’m not here tonight to talk about the environmental damage caused by fracking and gas leaks. I’m not here to talk about exporting natural gas and having us pay a tariff to do it. And I’m not here to restate that the Attorney General’s and the Conservation Law Foundation’s reports indicate that there’s no need for another pipeline that would interfere with the goals of the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act.
I’m here to share the concerns of many residents who worry about the safety of gas pipelines. At a Spectra Energy open house in February I observed aerial pictures of the existing and proposed pipelines. I’ve been to many affected neighborhoods and observed that the current pipeline is roughly within 25’ of some homes and within 50’ of many others.
Most of these homes were built after the pipeline was installed in 1963, and before people knew the potential dangers caused by leaks. According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the HCAs (High Consequence Areas) are at least a 660’ radius. Hundreds of homes lie within this zone. According to a Spectra employee, the old 24-inch bare steel pipe contains about 700lbs per square inch of pressure and the proposed 30” line can handle up to 1200 lbs. So what could happen?
Given that a similar old bare steel transmission line exploded on April 29th in Pennsylvania after being inspected two years earlier is very concerning and calls into question Spectra’s ability to assess pipeline safety. Houses were destroyed and a man was badly burned. The preliminary finding was that the leak was caused by corrosion. The inspection didn’t prevent this.
On January 5th Medway had a serious gas leak where a lateral pipeline crosses Rt. 109. According to the Milford Daily News, six homes were evacuated while the leak was repaired. In addition to the Medway Fire Department, three other fire departments were on hand. Luckily, it didn’t explode.
According to Heetma.org, Massachusetts has more than 20,000 natural gas leaks, so why pump more gas into a leaky system? It just doesn’t make sense.
In my opinion, the fact that the proposed pipeline could be as close as 20 feet from the existed line would increase the incineration zone exponentially. If one pipeline explodes, the other probably could too. A leak and a spark would be devastating. This could happen anywhere in Massachusetts given the enormous number of ignored leaks.
According to the US Department of Transportation’s Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration from 1994 through 2013, there were 110 serious incidents with interstate gas transmission pipelines. This resulted in $448,900,333 in property damages, 195 injuries and 41 deaths.
From 2002 to 2015 there were 589 resolved civil penalty cases totaling $47, 447,675. At this time there are another 637 open cases with proposed penalties of $64,856,000 Given that Massachusetts has over 20,000 natural gas leaks, why would we pump more natural gas into a leaking system? It just doesn’t make sense.
On November 30, 2015 Steve Aklquist of RI Future.org wrote an article based on an interview with two former safety inspectors who worked for Spectra in nearby Burrillville, Rhode Island. The two safety inspectors were working on a section of Spectra Energy’s AIM pipeline system and stated that the company cut corners when it came to project, worker and environmental safety.
One inspector was quoted as saying, “Right now, what they’re hoping to do, is they’re hoping to slam all this through, and then at the end ask for forgiveness,” They’ll say, “Oops, sorry about that, I didn’t know, let me write you a check. Because once this thing’s turning meter, they’re going to be making millions of dollars a day. It doesn’t matter what your problems are.”
According to the article the other inspector added , “These pipes have to last underground for at least 50 years….If there’s the smallest mistake in their cathodic protection, that’s what’s going to corrode. All of a sudden you’ve got, even at 800-900 pounds of pressure, doesn’t sound like much, but when you’ve got a 42-inch pipe, traveling that distance and it goes ka-bang, you’re not talking about taking out a block, you’re talking about taking out a large area. You’re talking about a humongous ecological impact, you’re talking about displacing hundreds of families, you’re talking about leveling homes, killing people instantly, I mean, if one of those places were to go up, it’s going to be a bad day.” End of quote.
As I said, I’m not here tonight to talk about the environmental damage caused by gas leaks and fracking. Or the fact that both the Attorney General’s and the Conservation Law Foundation’s research indicates that there are better ways to address peak winter days than adding another pipeline.
I’m here to say that given the track record of pipelines and the extreme pressure and location of the proposed pipeline, we ask that FERC consider the safety of our citizens by rejecting this proposal. Thanks for your time.
Respectfully submitted by,
James F. Hill
Franklin, MA 02038
|No Spectra sign found on a Franklin lawn|
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