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Pipeline project open house draws some dissent

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Dean Marshall of Benton, left, asks questions as Brian Ham of Williams' Transco, middle, and Kelli Bell of Universal Field Services answer during an open house on their proposed gas line at the Hughesville Volunteer Fire Company Tuesday.

A proposed pipeline expansion in Lycoming County received a less-than enthusiastic reception from at least two people attending a public open house session Tuesday night in Hughesville.

The Leidy South Project will increase the capacity for existing right-of-way lines carrying natural gas through northern Lycoming County and is expected to undergo construction in two years.

The 3.5-mile portion of the line known as the Benton Loop is proposed by Williams Cos., Tulsa, Okla.

Williams Co. officials were on hand at the Hughesville Vol. Fire Co. to answer questions from a small number of people about the project located in Jordan Township just south of Sullivan County.

Mike Atchie, manager of public outreach, said the project is part of a bigger expansion calling for the addition of compressor stations in Luzerne and Schuylkill counties and connecting to the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline to bring gas to markets south and east of the state.

The public meeting is a requirement of the pre-filing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), he said.

The small portion of pipeline to be constructed would impact about 20 landowners.

Dean Marshall, of Benton Township, said he lives near existing pipelines and is concerned about their cumulative effect.

Marshall noted that Williams Co. pipelines in the past have been the site of gas explosions.

“Nothing is completely safe,” he said.

He’s also concerned about the impact on wildlife.

Marshall noted he has been an outspoken opponent of drilling for natural gas and pipeline construction.

“One of our concerns is the gas they are moving is set for export,” he said. “It is basically a for-profit enterprise.”

Another property owner, who lives in Jordan Township and declined to give his name, said he showed up at the open house to gather information.

“I am very passionate about this,” he said. “My concerns are I don’t want to have my trees cut down.”

David Hanobic, FERC environmental manager, said his agency’s job is to disclose environmental impacts.

It can include public scoping sessions, visits to the project area and consultations with interested stakeholders.

All interstate pipelines are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Pipeline Safety, according to Williams officials.

During construction, pipeline representatives are to inspect the fabrication and construction of the pipeline.

An open house to discuss pipeline construction of the Leidy South Project in Clinton County is set for 6 p.m. today at Chapman Township Vol. Fire Co., North Bend.

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