WEST CHESTER – Local officials look to Columbia Gas Transmission’s plans to install another pipeline as an inevitable progression in Chester County due to the growth of the natural gas business in Pennsylvania.
“As I’ve often said, Chester County is already pipeline-central, and their numbers are going to increase, not decrease, in the years ahead,” said State Senator Andy Dinniman, D-19th of West Whiteland. “I am not against natural gas. I am for protecting our communities, our property values and our natural resources like the Brandywine Creek against harm from companies simply looking to get their product to ports in Philadelphia, Wilmington or Baltimore – or anywhere else – as quickly as possible.”
Columbia Gas Transmission is planning to install 8.8 miles of natural gas pipeline that will travel from the Eagle Compression Station and into West Bradford.
State Senator Andy Dinniman on Friday said that the natural gas pipeline proposed for Chester County by Columbia Gas Transmission is only the latest and will certainly be followed by others as the natural gas industry moves more and more Marcellus Shale natural gas to market.
Dinniman said this is why he took the lead last year in demanding the strictest state oversight of Williams Gas Pipeline’s 7-mile pipeline replacement project, and why he is introducing a three-bill package aimed at increasing the public’s ability to stay informed about pipeline projects and at protecting people’s homes, communities, and taxpayer-funded farmland from being harmed by pipeline projects.
According to Chevalier Mayes, communications manager for NiSource Gas Transmission & Storage, the pipeline, 26 inches in diameter, will affect 180 landowners in the pipeline’s right-of-way once construction for the project begins, which is anticipated to begin in April 2015. The pipeline is expected to be operational in September of that year, and would lie adjacent to an existing pipeline which is also owned by NiSource, parent company of Columbia Gas.
Mayes also said that the expansion project is a planned response for the need to meet increased demand for additional capacity in natural gas traveling through pipelines.
Columbia’s next steps for the project will be to enter into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s pre-filing process. The purpose of requesting entry into the commission’s pre-filing process is to allow stakeholder and environmental issues to be identified and resolved at earlier stages in the project’s development and planning. According to Martin Indars, spokesman for state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19th of West Whiteland, the pre-filing process is expected to begin later this month.
Tommy Ryan, township manager of West Bradford, said that although representatives from NiSource, the parent company of Columbia Gas, had reached out late last year to advise them of their intended pipeline, he hopes that communication will not cease there. While NiSource representatives have contacted residents in the pipeline’s Right of Way, as well as to those within 50 feet of it, Ryan said he expects regular updates from NiSource as they move through the approval and installation process. About 14 properties will be directly affected by the pipeline in West Bradford.
According to Mayes, once they have entered into the pre-filing process, Columbia representatives will notify the public through open houses and other informational events. Those types of meetings will be ongoing throughout the project until the pipeline is operational.
A toll-free number will become available at an unknown later date and company representatives will be available to answer any questions stakeholders may have.
The pipeline is part of Columbia’s Side Expansion project, which will feature looping pipelines in both Chester County and Gloucester County, N.J. The pipeline will cross wetlands and waterways in the area; however, the exact number of crossings has not yet been determined.