You are here

Frankfort spill argument against pipeline expansion


A spill from the Dominion Transmission natural gas pipeline on Higby Road in Frankfort is one reason some environmental advocates are asking the state to turn down Dominion’s New Market Project, a proposed expansion of the pipeline’s capacity.

A review of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation records uncovered the spill, which was reported in 2000 and led to the excavation of more than 2,600 tons of dirt, said Walter Hang, president of the Ithaca-based Toxics Targeting, an environmental database firm.The case is not marked as closed.

“In your area, one site had almost 3,000 tons of contaminated dirt removed and the DEC investigator remarks said plain as day that there’s still contamination in a ditch … 3,000 tons of contaminated dirt is a very large pollution hazard,” Hang remarked.

That’s why Hang, who uncovered eight other violations he deemed significant along the pipeline, thinks state law obligates the state to turn down Dominion’s application for water quality certification for the expansion.

Dominion wants to add two new compressor stations to the 50-year- old, 200-mile pipeline, in Georgetown and in Veteran, and to expand the existing compressor station in Minden. The pipelines runs from Horseheads to the Capital District. Dominion did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company states online that the expansion is needed to meet the demand for natural gas by National Grid customers upstate. Inspections, safety features and 24/7 monitoring would keep the pipeline safe, the literature argued.

The project, which Dominion had hoped to start in March, has received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but needs air and water quality approvals from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

DEC announced July 27 that the deadline for public comment on the proposed expansion will be extended from Aug. 1 to Sept. 12 and that it will schedule hearings on the issue.

Otsego 2000, a nonprofit group working to protect the Otsego Lake region, has opposed the Dominion expansion, arguing that it does not use the latest technology to protect the environment and the public, and that increasing flow over old pipes is too big a risk. An expansion of the Brookman Corners compressor station in Minden would pump an extra 100,000 pounds of greenhouse gases into an unusual atmospheric situation at the bottom of two valleys, said Nicole Dillingham, president of the board.

“It’s a very low point so even though they have a smokestack to take the emissions up and disperse them, they will not really disperse. They will cling to the valley,” she said.