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Pike County challenges pipeline “wet” crossing

May 25, 2011

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company (TGP) wants to cross the Lackawaxen River with a “wet crossing” of its pipeline at the height of the summer season. “No way,” say the Pike County Commissioners.

TGP is currently in the midst of major construction of a new pipeline that will add to the existing 26” pipe by inserting a 30” pipe that parallels the existing line.

According to the TGP website, “The company plans to increase the capacity of its 300 Line to transport new diversified natural gas supplies, including newly accessed Appalachian and Marcellus Shale gas to serve the growing demand for interstate natural gas transmission service in the northeast United States.”

“The Lackawaxen supervisors have requested that the county negotiate with the company to reexamine the company’s request,” said Rick Caridi, chairman of the Pike County Commissioners.

“The commissioners have directed me to react to the company’s latest offer—not to cross the river until August 1,” said county attorney Tom Farley. The commissioners are considering the offer and will investigate what the best response should be.

The company has received a permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to perform a “wet” crossing, which means that the company would dig a trench in the river bed and bury the pipe underground.

“The question we raise is: ‘Is it for the good of the community at a time when the river levels and flows are highest,’” Caridi said. “We are not doing this frivolously. We want to make sure that we have the best professional advice in making our decision.”

Farley sai

d that the county might have to appeal the case to the Pennsylvania Environmental Board. “We have 30 days to make our decision,” he said. “We are not saying that we will, in fact, appeal but that it is an option. We have had excellent cooperation with the company over this.”

The county is sending Susan Beecher, executive director of the Pike Conservation District, to Wilkes-Barre to the offices of the DEP, along with an expert from PennFuture, an independent state organization that strives to enforce environmental laws and advocates protection of the environment, in order to work out a solution.

“One positive thing is that the river is at its lowest during August,” said commissioner Karl Wagner.