MONTGOMERY: Watershed Association asks township to oppose pipeline application


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By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
MONTGOMERY — The Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association has asked Township Committee to oppose an application that would allow the Williams-Transco Co. to dig a trench to install the remainder of the Skillman Loop pipeline.
The natural gas supplier filed an application with the state Department of Environmental Protection to allow it to install the remaining 1,000 feet of pipeline by means of an open trench.
A public hearing on the application is set for Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Upper Middle School at 375 Burnt Hill Road.
The company ran into a snag as it tried to install the last section of the pipeline underground, using a hydraulic ram to tunnel through an area off Cherry Hill and Cherry Valley roads. It hit some dense rock in that area and could not get through.
Michael Pisauro, the policy director for the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association, urged Township Committee to oppose the natural gas supplier’s application for an open trench installation at the committee’s Jan. 21 meeting.
The underground pipeline would not damage streams and wetlands in the area, but cutting open the land for a trench “will permanently damage the streams and wetlands,” Mr. Pisauro said. The wetlands area is “exceptional” because it is a wood turtle habitat, he said.
Trenching means cutting a hole in the land, and requires removing vegetation in order to lay the pipe, Mr. Pisauro said. The vegetation would not be allowed to grow back, because the company wants to keep the area clean.
Mr. Pisauro also pointed out to Township Committee that the Skillman Loop has been in operation since December, and thus there is no need for the remaining 1,000 feet or so of pipeline to be installed. “They do not need to cut through exceptional wetlands,” he added.
The project called for installing a 42-inch natural gas pipeline, replacing the existing 36-inch pipeline that company officials said was inadequate to meet demand.
The section of pipeline that is being installed in Montgomery is par of a 30-mile pipeline loop that passes through Mercer, Somerset and Hunterdon counties. 

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