Chamblee, Georgia opposes a methane pipeline

Georgia City passes resolution against a methane pipeline, citing its duty to its own citizens as its highest priority. Other local governments could do the same. And that was for a proposed 24-inch pipeline; Spectra’s Sabal Trail proposes a 36-inch pipeline, for almost 3 and a half times as much gas and potential leaks and explosions. -jsq

Thomas S. Hogan, II, District 3, Chamblee City Council posted on his facebook page 20 Feb 2014 Chamblee Resolution Calls on the Members of the State Legislature to consider Changes:

WHEREAS, the Chamblee City Council holds its duty to protect its citizens as its highest priority; and

WHEREAS, on or around January 10, 2013, Atlanta Gas Light (AGL) began, in earnest, a construction project on Land Parcel 36, located at the end of a cul-de-sac on Shalimar Drive and between the 3200 Clairmont North Condominiums and Tanglewood Circle; also, directly under a main flight path of DeKalb-Peachtree Airport.; and

WHEREAS, on December 30, 2013 Land parcel 36 and the surrounding areas were annexed into the City of Chamblee; and

WHEREAS, the scope of the AGL construction project includes the installation of a 24-inch diameter 1080 psi steel pipeline reportedly tested at 720 psi to replace an existing 16-inch diameter 300 psi pipeline, and the addition of a new large gas regulator station/pigging station with a blast radius of up to 500 feet, according to the Pipeline Safety Trust Landowner’s Guide; and

WHEREAS, both the new regulator station and the larger pipeline are less than 500 feet from two residences and less than 250 feet from a residential condominium project; and

WHEREAS, area residents, local public safety officials, and local elected officials were not notified in advance about the significant activity at Land Parcel 36 which has resulted in certain undesirable outcomes; and

WHEREAS, one of the outcomes is a significant increase in risk of explosion to area residents due to the increase in pipeline size and pressure in a right-of-way (ROW) intended for a smaller line; and

WHEREAS, one of the outcomes is the construction of a gas regulator station, a complex facility with a greater risk of malfunction, vulnerability to severe weather events, and a known potential target for domestic or foreign terrorists, in a densely populated residential area with limited ingress/egress for emergency response; and

WHEREAS, one of the outcomes is an unpermitted, undesirable land use that is inconsistent with the current zoning and land use for the area, to wit: clearing of 3.5 acres of old growth forest and significant infill with no provision for storm water management, and the use of the property for a temporary welding station/laydown area to facilitate the construction of the pipeline; and

WHEREAS, there has been a well-documented lack of clarity and transparency by officials regarding authorization, specific regulations, oversight, and accountability. The GA Public Service Commission (GA PSC) Facilities Protection Unit, Pipeline Safety regulates intrastate gas pipelines in Georgia, according to the Pipeline Hazardous and Safety Administration (PHMSA). The GA PSC has repeatedly stated that it has no regulatory authority over the siting of gas regulator stations on intrastate pipelines in Georgia. The GA PSC Facilities Protection Unit has been unresponsive to attempted contacts by residents; and

WHEREAS, neither AGL nor the GA PSC have provided a safety plan to counteract an emergency event at the regulator station site or the pipeline. AGL has failed to provide the minimum annual information they are technically required to provide to residents living near a transmission line. The Georgia PSC has been unable to hold AGL accountable for communication obligations, past and present. The PSC and AGL both have cited the threat of sabotage as a starkly contradictory rationale for why they cannot provide the information related to a safety plan; and

WHEREAS, there was a gas line rupture on Tanglewood Circle near Clairmont Road, and communication with affected residents was chaotic during that emergency. The PSC, when contacted by area residents, did not know who was responsible for coordinating emergency response in the event of a pipeline accident; and

WHEREAS, there have been at least six major gas leaks reported in the Metro Atlanta area in the past year, including one that occurred on January 22, 2014, near Lawrenceville Highway, and which resulted in road closures and evacuations.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the CITY OF CHAMBLEE hereby support the passage of this Resolution and call on the members of the State Legislature to consider the following:

(1) determine the steps necessary to provide local jurisdictions (city, county) with the authority to regulate the siting of above-ground gas installations as they would any other above-ground industrial installation.

(2) establish a mechanism whereby pipeline operators are held accountable to communicate with transparency, on an on-going basis, and interactively with residents in neighborhoods affected by pipeline construction or traversed by major transmission pipelines.

(3) act to substantially increase the authority and capability of the GA PSC to oversee site selection, proposed and on-going construction, and accountability of pipeline operators for gas leak/explosion incidents and detailed reporting of same, and to upgrade the level of communication with the public on issues of natural gas pipelines. Legislative oversight is needed to assure the independence of the PSC from the utilities it regulates.

(4) facilitate proactive advance safety planning, including comprehensive public education and rigorous safety drills in communities which major transmission lines traverse.

(5) review existing state laws and regulations regarding environmental and watershed assessments, the use of existing ROWs for expansion of pipelines, and the proximity of the siting of intrastate pipelines to residential areas, and make this information readily available to the public.

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