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Constitution Pipeline controversy following state safety audit


(WBNG Binghamton) A local environmental database firm is asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to stop construction of the Constitution Pipeline after New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released a new Pipeline Safety Oversight Audit Tuesday.

Toxics Targeting President Walter Hang said the audit should convince Governor Andrew Cuomo to stop the Constitution Pipeline Project in its tracks.

"You have to face the reality that New York does not have an effective means of preventing these pipeline disasters or cleaning them up to state standards," said Hang.

The audit found between 1995 - 2014, New York had 194 pipeline incidents which resulted in 23 fatalities, 123 injuries and $77 million in property damage.

Constitution Pipeline Spokesman Christopher Stockton told Action News the project is proposing a transmission pipeline. He said transmission pipelines are less hazardous than other pipelines.

"Transmission pipeline incidents are extremely rare," said Stockton. "The majority of those incidents which are noted relate to the smaller diameter pipes that service peoples' homes and businesses. The transmission pipelines are actually the safest way to transport energy, and incidents on transmission pipelines are much more rare."

But Hang argues that when there is a pipeline incident, the state doesn't do enough to ensure proper clean-up is done.

"You can see according to the state's own data in many cases these massive contamination releases simply never get cleaned up to state standards," said Hang.

In order to proceed, the Constitution Pipeline must receive a Water Quality Certification.

"If the Governor denies that section 401 Water Quality Certification, the Constitution Pipeline Project would be killed dead," said Hang.

Stockton said the company is optimistic it will receive the certification by the end of April.

Hang said if Cuomo does not grant the certification before the end of April, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may do so.

The Constitution Pipeline project has been designed with safety as a cornerstone," said Stockton. "We are committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety, utilizing construction and operational procedures that exceed already stringent industry regulations."

Stockton said the regulations include:
· Pipe will be monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with remotely operated shut-off valves
· Installing thicker steel pipe than required by industry regulations
· More frequent inspections than are required by law, including regular inspections with highly-sophisticated internal inspection tools
· Inspection of the integrity of 100 percent of the welds on the pipeline