Princeton asks FERC to reject, Congressmen and Senators ask for safety review

Last week, Princeton, New Jersey, resolved to ask FERC to reject Williams Transco’s current plan for a 42-inch pipeline. This week, U.S. Congress and Senate members from New Jersey asked FERC to “review all safety issues”. This is all partly because a Transco contractor was involved in an explosion in March. Spectra was the “probable cause” of the 1994 Durham Woods, NJ pipeline explosion and fire, according to NTSB. Seems like time for some town around here to ask FERC to reject the Sabal Trail pipeline, and for Congressmen and Senators to join in.

2014-06-04: Contractor being sued for Ewing explosion to build Transco pipeline in Princeton, Montgomery, By Nicole Mulvaney/The Times of Trenton,

The same contractor being sued by the relatives of a woman who died in the Ewing gas explosion in March has been hired to construct a 42-inch Transco gas pipeline proposed in Princeton and Montgomery — and residents “don’t trust their safety culture.”

The Princeton Ridge Coalition, a residents group concerned about the environmental and safety aspects of the pipeline project, met tonight with Mayor Liz Lempert and town engineer Bob Kiser to update the public — about 25 members in attendance — about the Williams company’s latest construction plans filed earlier this month, which calls for the hiring of contractor Henkels & McCoy. No representatives from Williams were present at the meeting.

More about that Ewing, NJ explosion and fire that leveled homes and killed a woman.


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Princeton Council on this 14th clay of July, 2014 that it is in the best interest of the Municipality of Princeton for Transco to use the safest and most effective construction methods possible during the construction and installation of the Skillm-an Loop, therefore the Princeton Council respectfully requests that FERC conduct additional expert review and analysis of Transco’s proposed construction and installation plan, and consider using the proposed orizontal directional drilling to minimize the safety and environmenta impacts the construction will have on the surrounding area.

2014-07-16: Princeton council moves to reject proposed pipeline, By Nicole Mulvaney, Times of Trenton,

Council called on federal officials this week to reject Williams Transcontinental’s current plan for its proposed 42-inch pipeline through Princeton and Montgomery, citing environmental and safety concerns.

The governing body adopted a resolution Monday urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that has jurisdiction over the project, to review the environmental impact of the pipeline, which would be built alongside an existing pipeline that Williams says is no longer large enough to handle needs.

FERC is expected to issue an environmental assessment of the project Aug. 8.

The new pipeline would extend through Princeton Ridge and is part of the 6.36-mile Skillman Loop. It would carry natural gas from the shale fields in western Pennsylvania.

The ridge is an environmentally sensitive area consisting of boulders, bedrock and wetlands, which would be disturbed while the pipeline is being installed, according to the Princeton Ridge Coalition, a residents group concerned about the project.

In response to safety concerns expressed by PRC, Williams last month filed a revision to their “Comprehensive Rock Handling Plan” for the pipeline installation.

2014-07-23: Holt, Booker, Others Urge Federal Agency To Protect the Ridge, by Anne Levin for Town Topics,

Congressmen Rush Holt and Frank Pallone, and Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez signed a letter Tuesday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting that the agency “thoroughly review safety risks associated with this project” before a final Environmental Assessment is issued. While the lawmakers would have preferred that FERC require an Environmental Impact Statement, which is more extensive than an Environmental Assessment, the agency has determined that an Environmental Assessment is adequate for the project….

Last month, Mr. Holt cited the Princeton Ridge expansion proposal in an address to the House of Representatives on the need to increase funding for the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. “I have heard from my constituents about their safety concerns with this project which will require excavation and construction work along an existing, more than 50-year-old pipeline, which runs past homes and schools,” he remarked during a hearing for the amendment, which was adopted.

The letter signed by Mr. Holt, Mr. Pallone, Mr. Booker, and Mr. Menendez calls the Princeton Ridge “an unusual environment of boulders, shallow bedrock, and wetlands,” and cites submissions by pipeline safety expert Richard Kuprewicz of Accufacts, Inc. about safety concerns. “Failing to account for all credible safety risks would needlessly imperil not only local communities, but also the men and women working to construct and install this pipeline,” the letter reads….

In the letter to FERC, the lawmakers reference a recent finding that FERC had violated the National Environmental Protection Act in segmenting a project’s environmental review process involving the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s Northeast Upgrade Project. That project and the one involving the Princeton Ridge, which is part of the Leidy Southeast Expansion Project, “are notable and may be of relevance in the preparation of a final environmental review document,” they said.

“If FERC is committed to proceeding with the EA (Environmental Assessment) rather than a full Environmental Impact Statement, the outstanding issues related to safety during construction should be addressed,” the letter reads. “The principal safety risks involve potential damage to the half-century old existing pipeline because of remaining rocks and anticipated use of heavy construction equipment. In consideration of remaining safety concerns and the unique Princeton Ridge environment, we encourage you to answer all community concerns regarding project construction and environmental impacts.”

That wasn’t just “a finding” back in June; it was a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for DC that FERC has to consider cumulative pipeline effects.

Seems like Spectra should have to do that, too. Maybe some city or county in Alabama, Georgia, or Florida should demand it.


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