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REPORT: Divisive gas pipeline moving forward


Documents released by an Ithaca-area environmentalist show permits have been approved for the New Market Pipeline

Three Air State Facility permits have been granted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for the Dominion New Market Pipeline, allowing the divisive project to move forward despite no remediation of contamination at current sites, according to documents released Thursday.

Ithaca resident Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting released documents revealing permits dated to start Jan. 1, 2017, for new compressor stations in Horseheads, Chemung County, and Georgetown, Madison County, as well as the current station in Minden, Montgomery County. The three stations are part of Dominion Transmission Inc.’s plan for a $159 million, 200-mile project that would add about 33,023 horsepower of compression to the existing interstate pipeline transmission system, which includes the Borger Compressor Station on Ellis Hollow Creek Road in Dryden.

“There were no announcements of the permits, it was basically done by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in secret despite the massive amount of support against it,” Hang said. “He has ignored environmentalists’ requests not to permit more massive fossil fuel infrastructure. Nobody has seen the permits until now.”

The governor’s office and Dominion Transmission could not be reached for comment. Last July, 22 state legislators signed a letter to Cuomo asking for a moratorium on fossil fuel projects, in addition to a coalition of 1,151 state residents asking for the same thing.

In an editorial for the Post Standard in Syracuse, director of operations at Dominion Transmission Ron Minnick said the project will help address a growing need for natural gas for both upstate and downstate New York customers. Opponents say the pipeline will be used to export gas out of the state.

Hang said the approval of the permits violates Section 401 of the Clean Water Act because the state has to certify the proposed project will not cause water quality violations, but it already has in the past. He also released documents showing spills at the Borger Compressor Station on Ellis Hollow Creek Road in the late 1990s were not remediated.

A spill was reported at the Borger Compressor Station in 1998 when it was owned by CNG Transmission, and an investigation showed the concern was from petroleum byproducts including light gas distillates, lubricating oil and glycol. The report shows the soil in a former liquid pit contained more than the accepted level of benzo(a)pyrene — a compound found in tobacco smoke — and groundwater contained more than the accepted levels of several concentrations: benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, total xylenes and naphthalene.

Although a heavily redacted spill report from 2001 can be found on the DEC website, the complete report obtained by Hang includes several omissions from the report available to the public. Remarks from Mike Antonetti at Danes and Moore, an environmental consulting agency, are omitted on the website. In the full report, Antonetti said he “discovered an old disposal area where an unknown heavy petroleum has been dumped.” Under the category of meets standards for cleanup, regional spill engineer at the DEC Richard Brazell wrote “No,” which is also not in the public report.

“The (Borger) site has already caused violations the state is totally ignoring, and this project should not have been permitted to move forward,” Hang said. “The DEC had said they had cleaned it up to applicable standards.”

Hang also released a recent email from Brazell, who said the results of the testing by the consultant indicated there were exceedances of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and he elected at the time to check the box as not meeting the standards of cleanup. The DEC now uses a new standard for cleanup levels, and comparing the results to the current standards show exceedances in benzo(a)anthracene and chrysene.

Hang said concerned residents should contact their representatives and the governor’s office.