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Regulators: Dominion may begin pipeline expansion


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted a wetland, waterbody variances and a notice to proceed to Dominion for its pipeline expansion project on Friday, a move opposed by some environmentalists who claim it will harm wetlands.

In a letter to Sara White, regulatory and certificates analyst at Dominion Transmission, David Swearingen, chief of the Gas Division at FERC, said Dominion could start construction. FERC based its decision on its review of Dominion’s Implementation Plan, filed May 12, 2016, which Swearingen said included information necessary to meet FERC's environmental conditions and pre-construction conditions.

"Dominion Transmission will begin staking limits of disturbance areas at various project locations, and will begin construction as soon as weather allows," said Frank Mack, a spokesman for Dominion Transmission.

Walter Hang, of Toxics Targeting, who opposes the Dominion pipeline expansion, says the stormwater pollution prevention plan Dominion sent to the state and Dryden is "incomplete, inadequate and factually incorrect for regulatory compliance purposes."

The pipeline traverses Tompkins and Chemung, among other New York counties. The company wants to increase capacity and add new compressor stations along the existing pipeline route.

Hang claims Dominion's New Market Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan failed to identify multiple wetlands, waterways and buffer zones within the approved and proposed revised limits of disturbance for the expansion of the Borger Compressor Station facility at 219 Ellis Hollow Creek Road. Hang showed one specific wetland area — wetland 10 — as an example of a location that may be inside a limit of disturbance and at risk of being exposed to contaminants even though maps created for Dominion did not show the two areas converging.

Hang also said the Town of Dryden earlier approved Dominion's Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan and failed to require a Special Use Permit (SUP) for the proposed expansion of the Borger Compressor Station even though earlier facility expansions required a SUP.

"We are fighting tooth and nail to require Dryden to revoke the stormwater pollution prevention plan," Hang said.

Some local officials said they consider Hang's claims to be legitimate and say more reviews should be conducted.

On March 6, Dryden Town Supervisor Jason Leifer wrote a letter to Kimberly Bose, Secretary of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, asking Dominion to revise its Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan and address pollution concerns if any inaccuracies about the pipeline project are discovered. Leifer requested FERC deny the variances Dominion requested and asked FERC to withhold further approvals for the proposed project until Dominion's data could be compared with the data from Toxics Targeting.

Frank Mack, a spokesman for Dominion, stands by the company's mapping of the Borger Compressor Station Site. He also said the company will leave wetlands untouched.

"Under the FERC’s Wetland and Waterbody Construction and Mitigation Procedures, there is no requiremen' to remain outside the 50-foot buffer of any wetland or waterbody. We are not in violation of anything, so there is either a misunderstanding or someone was misinformed," Mack said. "FERC has a process as part of the procedures. The expectation is to have a 50-foot buffer between any wetland or waterbody and any limits of disturbance. If we cannot, we ask for a variance and can obtain permission as long as we can justify it. In this case, we made our case, the FERC agreed and it approved our requested variances for workspace placement. We simply got permission to do work a little closer than the suggested 50 feet. None of the variances for this project will impact any wetland or waterbody."

Mack also dismissed Hang's claims.

"The wetland and streams were delineated by independent professional wetland scientists," Mack said. "We designed our workspace around the wetlands and presented the plan to the FERC, which approved the wetland and work limits and agreed that we would not be impacting any wetland at Borger Station."