By Sierra Shamer, Shalefield Organizing Committee
BLOOMSBURG, PA –The Columbia County commissioners meeting was well attended Thursday when over 30 concerned citizens showed up to support a presentation highlighting health and safety concerns of the proposed Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline and compressor station. Representatives of the local group, Columbia County Against the Pipeline (CCAP) have attended these meetings for months, encouraging the commissioners to become as informed as possible about the proposed project and what it would mean for the residents of Columbia County.
Organizer Deirdre Lally from the Clean Air Council gave a presentation on the 183- mile Atlantic Sunrise project, a proposed natural gas transmission pipeline that would affect 10 counties in PA. Over 40 miles of this pipeline and a compressor station would be constructed within Columbia County. Over the last year and a half, landowners have been approached by Williams Company to sign over their property rights for the pipeline right-of-way. If they refuse, Williams can acquire the power of eminent domain to take their land against their will.
The decline of Williams financial state and merger, their contracts to ship gas overseas, the inability of this pipeline to provide gas to local homes and businesses, and the health impacts of compressor stations were all addressed. The presentation emphasized the dangers of hazardous air pollutants that compressor stations emit 24-7 including methane, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, benzene, and other volatile organic compounds. These pollutants cause a large range of medical issues including respiratory problems, vision impairment, sleep disturbances, sinus problems, severe headaches, and others.
While the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the power to permit the pipeline, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and local zoning offices determine the location and permit for compressor stations and other related facilities. The proposed compressor station would be located in the northwest corner of Orange Township.
The Columbia County Against the Pipeline group asked the commissioners to write a letter to FERC listing concerns about pipeline and compressor safety, and to ask for increased public comment and participation in this process. Commissioner Chris Young agreed to this request. Despite hearing of the health threats of the proposed compressor station, the county commissioners stated they are not going to oppose the project, but would support any decision made by the Orange Township supervisors on this issue.
“Property damage and negative health impacts have already been proven in Pennsylvania as a result of compressor stations. Now that they have this information, we hope that our local elected officials will do what they can to protect the public health and safety of Columbia County residents” said Clean Air council organizer and Columbia County resident, Deirdre Lally.
For more information, please contact Deirdre Lally (firstname.lastname@example.org).