Consultant: No environmental harm from utility’s proposed regulator station


 An environmental consultant has testified that a proposed New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) regulator station would not have a negative impact on the environment if it is constructed on Holmdel Rod in Holmdel.

Edward Potenta, of Potenta Environmental Consultants, appeared before the Holmdel Zoning Board of Adjustment on Sept. 26 at the municipal building. He was testifying on behalf of NJNG, which is seeking variances and permission to construct a regulator station at 970 Holmdel Road to reduce the pressure in an existing transmission system.

NJNG operates a temporary regulator station on the Vonage property, 23 Main St., where an underground system has been installed to continue to meet the needs of gas customers in the area. The system cannot continue to operate at 23 Main St. because it is “not sustainable in the long run,” according to previous testimony.

Answering questions posed by attorney Nancy Skidmore, who represents NJNG, Potenta described the level of noise that would be emitted from the proposed regulator station. He said the regulator station would be in constant use by customers and would not turn on and off as gas is used.

Potenta said noise from the proposed regulator station could mimic a light humming sound and would not be noticeable to residents who live near the proposed location. He said he conducted a noise level impact assessment in the area and concluded the noise that would come from the heater and the regulator would be minute and should not be cause for concern. 

“This project can and will comply with state and local noise regulations,” he said.

Potenta said the regulator station would make more noise in the winter when more customers are using gas to heat water and their home. He said the additional noise would not exceed state and local noise regulations.

Potenta said a sound wall made of coated steel and rockwool would be needed to help mask the sound of the regulator station. He described rockwool as a material that is used to help absorb sound.

“The (proposed) heater is much lower in noise than the regulator. The regulator is really the dominating noise source,” Potenta said. “… The projected generator noise levels will be lower than the existing daytime and nighttime noise levels and will not be noticeable to surrounding residents. The project will have no adverse noise impact on the surrounding community with the mitigation in place.”

“You are going to have constant noise that is not going to stop … Will I be able to hear (the regulator station) at all, in my house, with the windows open?” the zoning board’s chairwoman, Valerie Avrin-Marchiano, asked.

Potenta responded, saying, “I would say no.”

“What happens when (the sound) is more than what we are being led to believe now? Do we go back to NJNG and say ‘OK, in spite of the experts and the documentation you put in front of this board, it’s not correct?’ ” board member Anthony Pesce asked.

“I’m struggling with the idea that something of this magnitude could only put out the sound of two people having a conversation who are 3 feet away from each other. Common sense-wise, it doesn’t make sense,” Pesce said.

Potenta said residents would not be negatively impacted by the noise that would be emitted from the proposed facility.

During his testimony, Potenta said the emissions from the regulator station would have a “negligible” effect on the air quality in the municipality and local waterways.

“We found that the proposed regulator station will have no adverse impact on the (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s) air quality standards or local air concentrations,” he said.

Potenta said an air permit is not required from the DEP before any action may be carried out by NJNG. He said emissions from the facility would be at “totally insignificant” levels.

“We addressed the concentrations of pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter … we addressed sulfur dioxide emissions from the heater, we addressed lead concentrations from the heater, and we also addressed the ozone … ” Potenta said.

He said odors would not be emitted from the regulator station and said it is unlikely there would ever be a gas leak at the site. He described the facility as a “closed operating system” that would be “continuously monitored.”

Skidmore asked Potenta about the accuracy of three advisory memorandums that were produced by the Holmdel Environmental Commission. The memos took issue with the proposed facility and noted areas of the environment that could be affected by its construction.

“There would be no negligible effects on pollutant levels at nearby residential, commercial or agricultural land use near the project site … There is no potential for any air pollution to impact water quality through atmospheric deposition … I don’t know how to describe in any way how insignificant it is,” Potenta said.

Jeffrey Otteau, president of the Otteau Group, was scheduled to testify about real estate issues related to the NJNG application, but did not because of a conflict of interest involving a zoning board member.

The NJNG hearing is scheduled to continue at the zoning board’s Oct. 10 meeting. The public may have the opportunity to make comments and ask questions regarding the proposed facility on Holmdel Road.