South Brunswick mayor challenges compressor station

By JENNIFER AMATO
Staff Writer

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – Mayor Frank Gambatese expressed “disappointment” in a lack of technical details and specifics about the natural gas compressor station that will affect thousands of residents in the South Brunswick area.

“We are very concerned that specific information and relevant documentation is not provided in terms of timing, nature and form of coordination,” Gambatese wrote in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) dated Jan. 11. “The submission by the proponent includes statements which may indicate that important studies and documents required to assess the impacts of this process will not be available until sometime in 2017. Lack of specific dates puts tremendous burden on our ability to plan our resources and experts who will be engaged in the assessment of this application.”

Williams Company operates the Transco natural gas pipeline that transports natural gas from south Texas to New York City. Williams is proposing the Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project for construction and installation of a compressor station for connection to the Transco pipeline on a portion of the Trap Rock Quarry property located near the intersection of Route 27 and Promenade Boulevard in South Brunswick/Franklin Township to supply the Brooklyn and Rockaway areas of New York at the request of their customer, National Grid, according to a resolution passed by the South Brunswick Council in opposition to the plan in July 2016.

The proximity of the property to 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 is the resounding concern of neighbors because of safety and noise issues.

In this most recent letter, Gambatese cites details regarding proposed emission controls, cumulative effects, sediment sampling, the emergency shutdown system, safety features and an engineering analysis being vague.

“In the absence of design specifications, performance and reliable data obtained from actual implementations of similar systems, it will be unviable to make an assessment of the effectiveness of mitigation systems, processes and resources as proposed by the proponent. The completion of true and meaningful risk analysis and determinations of actual risk levels will not be feasible. We are concerned that generic, elusive and dismissive information provided by the proponent may cloud or conceal from the public some of the options that should be and could be considered to further minimize the impacts,” he wrote in his letter.

On Nov. 22, 2016, Williams filed draft resource reports for the NESE project with FERC. In December, Christopher Stockton of Williams Company said that the company continued its environmental survey work and data collection during the fall on two potential sites within Franklin Township, and also evaluated a number of criteria used to identify potential facility locations, such as property availability, access to electric power, pipeline hydraulics, land use and land development, site terrain, water table and stormwater management, site accessibility and potential impacts to nearby residences.

“Based on a thorough analysis of the environmental data and criteria listed above, we have identified Alternative Site 3, also known as Site B, as the preferred location for the proposed facility. This 52-acre tract is located approximately one mile south of the intersection State Highway 27 and County Route 518 in Franklin Township. The site was selected because it minimizes potential impacts to residential areas as well as to environmental resources, such as wetlands and waterbodies,” he said.

Gambatese also expressed disappointment that he was not given an opportunity by Williams Company to participate in formal discussions with other mayors.

On Dec. 13, the South Brunswick Council had passed a resolution creating the Williams/Transco Compressor Station Task Force comprised of appointed officials and township residents who will evaluate the health, safety and welfare of residents related to the compressor station.

“We are interested and we are willing to make available observers or representatives to participate in the meetings or teleconferences,” Gambatese wrote. “We would like to respectfully request assistance and information to enable us to participate in these meetings.”

As part of the FERC application process, Williams is expected to develop a detailed analysis of the project’s effect on wildlife, vegetation, wetlands, waterbodies and groundwater, geology, soils, land use, air and noise quality. More details about the site selection will be included in the Certificate Application submittal this spring, Stockton said.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@gmnews.com.