December 5, 2012 —
TOWN OF MINISINK, NY — Members of the community who are trying to put a halt to the construction of the compressor station in their town say a new report from a prominent pipeline engineer gives support to their position that the project is not safe.
Richard Kuprewicz, the engineer, prepared the report after examining documents provided to him by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and wrote in the report, “The Minisink Compressor Project is a very poor proposal and should be rejected.”
According to Kuprewicz’s report, the heart of the problem is the 7.4-mile stretch of the Millennium Pipeline called the Neversink Segment located a few miles away from the proposed compressor station. The pipe in Neversink segment is 24 inches in diameter, while the rest of the pipeline is 30 inches in diameter, and this difference has a negative impact on the velocity of the gas.
The report says, “The velocities on the 24-inch Neversink segment clearly exceed prudent design standards and safety margins,” and it says that another proposed compressor station for Hancock would raise the velocities even higher.
Further, the report says such high velocities “raise serious questions as to the adequacy or completeness of any previous hydraulic studies or decisions that may have been used to justify approval of the Minisink Compressor Project.”
Members of the community, through the organization StopMCS, have been fighting the Minisink project, and have been urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Millennium to instead build the station at a site called the Wagoner Alternative located several miles away. In FERC documents, Millennium rejected this alternative as being too expensive because it would require an upgrade of the Neversink Segment, which Kuprewicz is now calling for.
StopMCS has expressed concerns that conditions regarding the Neversink Segment could result in an explosion and fire, such as the pipeline eruption that occurred in San Bruno, CA in September 2010, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes. In that case, federal investigators blamed Pacific Gas & Electric Company for mistakes that led to the explosion and a lack of regulatory oversight.
Steve Sullivan, a spokesman for Millennium, said Millennium has design standards and the project is designed to those standards. He also said, “There are no regulations regarding gas velocities in pipelines.”
Kuprewicz responded that while that statement is true, companies typically put upper limits on velocities, and he stood by his statements in the report.
FERC is currently considering a rehearing on the permits for the Minisink project, but while the agency considers the matter, the pipeline company is allowed to move forward with construction. If FERC denies the rehearing, StopMCS will be able to move forward with a federal lawsuit against the company and FERC, and members of StopMCS have accused FERC of dragging its feet on the matter.
Two of the five commissioners opposed the project.