COLERAIN - In preparation for its planned pipeline and compressor station, Spectra Energy held a public meeting at the Hilltop Social Hall Wednesday. The public was invited to speak to Spectra representatives and ask their questions.
Phil West, director/communications manager, said Spectra had brought in employees in the fields of engineering and operations, as well as right-of-way experts who work with landowners along the route to ensure their needs are taken care of.
"They're all in this to make sure that we have a good conversation with landowners up front. It's important to us. It's important to the landowners. It's important to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It's important to those people on our team, because they live and work in these communities," he said.
One issue raised by several landowners was concern about the noise of operations. West noted the vast majority of pipe is underground. The compressor station itself is equipped with considerable foam insulation. The station will also be set back at a distance from traffic and occupants. He said Spectra must also meet strict regulations regarding the noise level.
"We'll certainly meet or exceed all those regulations. I don't expect there to be any issues," he said.
West said the compressor station will not run constantly, but is driven by demand for gas.
"What we're trying to build is a highway for gas," he said. "Pennsylvania and Ohio have been blessed with this rich resource."
He added that natural gas is a major energy source used by Ohio's households.
West said the safest and most efficient way to move the gas was through pipeline, and compressor stations had to be constructed along the way to boost the gas flow during times of demand.
"We're trying to pull gas from the Utica Shale down to our main pipeline through southern Ohio," he said.
He added that maps were displayed to show where the pipeline will run and the compressor station will be located. Videos also described the security measures that will be in place.
West added that Spectra boasts operations from Texas through the Midwest and East Coast and has a strong safety record.
"This will be a brand-new pipeline and a brand new compressor station meeting the latest regulations," he said. "We are a heavily regulated industry."
He underlined Spectra's commitment to the operation.
"The people doing this have a vested interest in keeping it safe. They want to keep it safe because they live here in these communities as well," he said. "We have operators around the county that live in these communities and pipeliners that come in and build the systems and make the wells. They live here. Their friends live here. They want to make sure these systems are safe."
Construction on the compressor station should begin the spring of 2015 and be completed by November of that year.
Madlyn Tomich of St. Clairsville, who owns property in the area and has family members in town, attended to learn more about the location of the line and how the station will function. She also wished to learn more about the safety precautions, including detection measures and automatic shut down functions. She added that the safety measures seem extensive.
"This is all new stuff. The more you know the better," she said. "This is sure going to change Belmont County."
Another property owner, who did not wish to be identified, said he would be uneasy living on the same land as the pipeline. He noted the complex system deals with a volatile substance and there is potential for accidents.
Colerain Fire Chief Greg Probst said Spectra has been open and forthcoming with first responders and has offered to work with them to effectively respond to any emergency at the site.
"I think Spectra's being very open with the community," he said. "I think they'll be a decent partner in the community."
West said Spectra makes every effort to remain engaged with first responders and emergency personnel. He added that once the station is built, emergency personnel will be invited to tour the area and familiarize themselves with the system and safety features.
EMA Director David Ivan was also present to learn more concerning the location of the compressor station in relation with the proposed gas line, so he might better work with the fire chief. He said his questions to Spectra were answered and the discussions would continue as the project progresses.
"You're dealing with a natural gas line so of course there's concerns. We want to make sure everybody's on the same page should an event happen at this station," he said. "With natural gas, you have to be careful how you handle it."
He added some training exercises to evaluate their preparations may be scheduled.
County Engineer Fred Bennett was also present. He noted the pipeline will affect roads between the site and Monroe County, and these issues will be discussed as the project develops.
Clint Powell, business manager of the Laborer's International Union of North America 809 based in Steubenville, was present to ask that Spectra use its organization or local labor for the project. He pointed out they have completed many such projects for companies such as Mark West. He added that the construction called for operators, laborers, welders, teamsters, cement masons, pipe fitters and area contractors. He also pointed out the local goodwill that can be earned in the area for the use of locals. In addition, the union also boasts a network of connections with contractors and other professionals.
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