Algonquin Pipeline expansion approved by FERC

The Algonquin Pipeline expansion proposal has received approval from a federal agency that conducted an environmental review for the project.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued its approval decision yesterday with details presentation in a 66-page document that included expansions for the conclusion.

The proposal involves replacing approximately 20.1 miles of natural gas pipeline that is 26 in. in diameter with larger pipeline material of 42 in. in diameter, according to FERC.

An existing compressor station in the Putnam County town of Southeast would undergo several changes, according to FERC. The work includes adding a 10 320 horsepower compressor unit that is natural-gas fired and adding gas cooling for it, FERC notes.

The pipeline goes through Rockland County, crosses the Hudson River to Westchester and Putnam before crossing the Connecticut state line into Fairfield County, according to FERC.

Critics of the project have expressed concerns about air quality and the safety of material from the pipeline. Another concern stems from the pipeline's proximity to the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

FERC response

In its decision, FERC responds to public concerns and states its conclusions on them, citing a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) that was conducted for the review.

In its decision, FERC finds that potential emissions for most materials at the Southeast station, along with another one in Stony Point, will be lower than currently due to removal of existing compressors and modifications of current equipment.

FERC also expressed support for mitigation measures meant to deal with methane emissions. The agency also touched upon concern regarding radioactive decay products in the pipeline, noting that they have relatively short half lives that will result in the amount of it being limited. FERC addressed the applicant's annual inspections and cleanings of the pipeline.

vRegarding proximity to Indian Point, FERC notes that Entergy, the nuclear plant's operator, performed a safety evaluation and submitted it to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which in turn conducted a review.

"The NRC concluded that a breach and explosion of the proposed 42 in.diameter natural gas pipeline would not adversely impact the safe operation of the Indian Point facility," FERC's conclusion states. "Therefore, the final EIS concludes that the project will not result in increased safety impacts at the Indian Point facility."

The pipeline expansion is still subject to approval from the state's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which held a public hearing in January.

The project has received support from construction-union members who cite its creation of jobs and argue it would be an improvement over the current pipeline.

The expansion will allow an increased flow of natural gas from Ramapo to various cities' delivery points in the Northeast.

Edited from various sources by Elizabeth Corner

Sources: Putnam Daily VoiceThe Journal News

Published on 04/03/2015

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