Residents asked to push for better compressor technology

An electric motor for the Columbia Gas upgrade would reduce the change of methane leaks, other technology would keep down noise

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  • Greg Lotorto speaks to the Milford Township supervisors about the compressor station expansion project. (Photo by Charles Reynolds)



Other township news

No clean-up day — Barbara Meyer and her husband, Robert, asked if Milford Township was planning on a clean-up day. Supervisor Gary Williams said 67 people participated in the last clean-up and that it cost the township over $7,000. Treasurer Viola Canouse added that in the past, they did clean-up in cooperation with Milford Borough to share the costs, but since the borough didn't want to do it anymore, the burden would lie solely with the township.
Route 6 work ending — The state transportation department will complete work on Route 6 over the Sawkill during the first half of July, said Williams in response to another question from the Meyers.
Crane on Schocopee — A report came into the township that there was a large crane operating on the Shocopee Road bridge. Williams investigated and found a 156,000 pound crane directed by PennDOT to work there. All township roads are rated for 10,000 pounds. The road was videotaped and a road maintenance agreement was reached between the township and the Nyleve Bridge Corporation out of Emmaus, Pa., to make sure the company will repair any damage. “This is basically the same as we do with the gas companies,” Williams said.
Next meeting — The next meeting of the Milford Township supervisors will be June 16 at 7 p.m. in the township administration building on Routes 6 and 209.

By Charles Reynolds
— “We are being cheated of our rights,” said Dingman resident Greg Lotoroto told Milford Township supervisors Monday, as they discussed how to get concessions that will make the Columbia Gas compressor upgrade project less noxious to local residents.

They decided to ask the public to help by calling the state to get Columbia Gas to use electric motors, which reduce methane leakage.

Calling for help

Contacts for the PA EPA are:
E. Christopher Abruzzo, Secretary for the Department of Environmental Protection
Dana Aunkst, Executive Deputy Secretary/Programs
Scott Perry, Deputy Secretary/Office of Oil and gas Management.
They can be reached by:
Phone: 717-783-2300
Mail: Rachel Carson State Office Building, 400 Market St., Harrisburg, PA 17101.
PRO Fact Sheet No. 103 may be found at epa.gov/gasstar/tools/recommended.html#compressors

Lotorto said clean air and water are promised in the state constitution and as sacrosanct as other rights enumerated in the U.S. Constitution, like the right to free speech. He said Columbia Gas failed to address local residents' basic rights to clean air and water.

“We're allowing them to violate out rights, in my opinion,” said Lotorto.

The project is not simply an expansion, as Columbia Gas claims, he said. He argued that since they are removing all of the old station and building a new one, it should not be referred to as an expansion.

“If we don't take action we're going to get run over," he said.

Supervisor Gary Clark greed — but said any action Milford took had to be both responsible and realistic. In the past the supervisors have said that, since the upgrade is an energy project governed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the best Milford could do was make sure it was done responsibly. If you cannot stop these pipeline and energy projects, supervisors said, you had to make sure they were done safely, with residents and the local environment in mind.

To that end, Clark is calling on the public to contact the Environmental Protection Agency in Pennsylvania to demand that Columbia Gas be required to use electric motors on the new station.

“I need the public's help,” said Clark. “We need them to know that Milford Township wants the electric motors (on the compressor). I want to see every avenue taken so they know what we want. We want clean air, and we want the electric motors.”

Lotorto said Columbia Gas “has agreed with Best (Management) Practices” approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and so should be required to comply with them. He agreed to help Clark spread the word to reach out to state and federal agencies.

According to a report by a partner with the US Environmental Protection Agency, using electric motors at compressor stations “reduces the chance of methane leakage by eliminating the need for fuel, requires less maintenance, and improves operational efficiency.”

The cost for such a project is estimated at over $50,000. However, the report also states that, in today's current market, it will pay for itself in 32 months. Another benefit to electric motors “is the faster permitting process as a result of lower noise output and no emissions," the report says.

Another way to keep down emissions and noise

Reducing noise and emissions, both concerns to Lotorto and other opponents of the new station, is possible through technology that recaptures gas normally expelled in a blowdown — that is, the venting of natural gas contained inside a pipeline.

According to another US EPA fact sheet, this technology would pay for itself in 15 months and says its primary justification is the “recovery of a valuable product.” Its secondary benefit would include “increased safety."

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