Algonquin Pipeline work raises concerns

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Plans to expand existing pipeline next to Indian Point being aggressively fought


The Federal Energy Regulatory Committee on July 29 gave the go-ahead to Spectra Energy to start expanding its compressor station in Stony Point, adding two new ones and upgrading the existing compressor station, much to the chagrin of some residents.

The Algonquin pipeline runs from Texas to Beverly, Massachusetts, nearly 1,200 miles, connecting to another pipeline bound for Canada. While there’s no denying natural gas is in high demand and has to be delivered in some fashion, siting it in an area where 20 million people live and work near a nuclear power plant that’s had a questionable history is not exactly what Hudson Valley residents have in mind as a reasonable alternative to deliver gas.

Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillebrand, Congresswoman Nita Lowey and dozens of other elected officials have expressed concerns about a 42-inch gas pipeline built under the Hudson next to a power plant. Riverkeeper, Clearwater and Scenic Hudson and dozens of grassroots groups have also stepped up the fight against it.

At a meeting on July 15 at Hendrick Hudson High School in Westchester County, many came out to hear former Naval reactor operator Paul Blanch, who has spent five decades working with nuclear power programs and has been a thorn in the side of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission during his 50 years in engineering.

“I’m a nuclear safety advocate opposed to the way Indian Point is regulated,” Blanch told a packed room during the meeting. He contends it is “probably one of the most dangerous plants in the world…sited in the most densely populated region in the United States.  Two existing gas lines already run through Indian Point…the first one was put in 1952—we do not even know the condition it is in.”

Spectra says the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) Project will make domestically produced natural gas meet the demand, and, in turn, reduce energy costs.

Detractors point to several explosions that have occurred on natural gas transmission lines and do not want to see Spectra site another pipe under the Hudson.

Westchester County’s Board of Legislators on August 10, along with dozens of groups opposed to the siting of the pipeline, voiced serious concerns about health, safety and legal objections about the County’s involvement with the massive expansion of the Algonquin Pipeline.

Jerry Nappi, the manager of Nuclear Communications at Entergy Wholesale Commodities, said “Entergy takes no position on the pipeline itself, but because a portion comes across property at Indian point, we worked with the pipeline owner to add enhanced protective measures, including creasing thickness of the pipe, burying the pipe deeper and laying concrete protect mats over the pipe in the vicinity of the power plant…an impendent analysis determined the pipeline causes no increased risks to safety at the plant, and experts at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission conducted their own impendent analysis and reached the same conclusion.”

Despite Entergy’s assurances, those against the pipeline are are not alone. From New York to Rhode Island, hundreds of groups are coming out against Spectra’s  massive multi-billion dollar project.


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