South Brunswick fights compressor project in Franklin

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BY JENNIFER AMATO
Staff Writer

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – The township has joined the fight against a proposed compressor project planned for nearby Franklin Township.

South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese attended one of two information sessions provided by the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based The Williams Companies on June 28 for the plan to construct a 32,000-horsepower gas compression station at the intersection of Promenade Boulevard and Route 27.

Williams owns and operates a natural gas transmission pipeline known as the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company (Transco), which transports natural gas from natural gas production areas to utility companies and power plants throughout the northeastern and southeastern United States, according to information sent by Williams to homeowners located a half-mile from the affected area.

Williams is in the preliminary stages of developing the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project to add 400,000 dekatherms per day of additional natural gas transportation capacity, scheduled for service in the winter of 2019, according to the statement by Patrick McClusky, senior land representative for Williams.

That land is currently located in the Trap Rock Quarry, Gambatese said, in Somerset County. However, he said the initial proposed location has 1,000 South Brunswick residences located within one-third of a mile.

According to Kevin Corcoran, board treasurer for the Princeton Walk Homeowners Association, there are 377 single family homes and townhomes in the Princeton Walk development, 100 individual homes in the Preserves and 198 townhomes at the Woods at Princeton Walk.

“The major concern is basically, first of all, noise,” Corcoran said. “We’ve been told the plant runs normally at no more than 55 decibels of sound but when you do have a blow down [a release of gas for maintenance or an emergency] I’ve been told it’s very loud.”

He said more questions that have not been answered are if 55 decibels is on average or per incident; the dangers of environmental pollution due to chemicals being released; and safety concerns if the plant were to explode, as has happened around the country.

“When it releases natural gas, of course, it’s releasing into the atmosphere so it would be blown in whatever way the wind is blowing,” he said. “And when there is compressed gas there are petroleum-type distillates in the air … [and chemicals] from the process that will be stored in tanks on site and trucked away.”

Gambatese had questions of his own, such as how deep the gas lines are, if there will be any noise from the compressor station and what may happen when the trap rock blasts.

“That is a very big concern. You have them dynamiting in that quarry … and I’m very concerned something could rupture,” he said.

There is a second location proposed at the end of the quarry “which I prefer that one because it is a much further distance away from our residents,” Gambatese said.

It would be located closer to the Higgins Farms Superfund site, about two miles north near Routes 27 and 518, Corcoran said.

Before Williams can expand or modify its facilities, the company must first apply for and obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). A formal application has not yet been filed, McClusky said in the statement.

Should the application be filed by spring 2017, the company would start building in late summer 2018, with service scheduled for the winter heating season of 2019, according to the statement.

In the meantime, since the project is not within the jurisdiction of South Brunswick, the township can only “put pressure” on local senators and Congresspeople to oppose the project, according to Gambatese.

Corcoran said a group of volunteers from Princeton Walk has started a petition at www.stoptranscocompressor.org/ For more information, visit www.facebook.com/Stop-Compression-Gas-Station-near-South-Brunswick-New-Jersey-1041796122569098/

Comments may also be directed to the FERC at www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ferconline.asp

Representatives of Williams could not be reached for further comment.

The Williams Companies will present more information at the July 12 South Brunswick Council meeting.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@gmnews.com.