Worries about another gas leak disaster have prompted Wellington officials to take a stance against a route that would put the NEXUS gas line close to the village.
Steve Pyles, village administrator, filed a letter Aug. 24 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission saying the line should swing farther to the north as originally planned by Spectra Energy Corp.
A proposal to move the line away from the city of Oberlin has been put forward by a group called the Coalition to Reroute NEXUS. It is formally supported by the city of Green, Ohio.
Wellington Township trustees passed a resolution earlier this month and filed it with FERC on Aug. 24 opposing the more southernly route that CORN and Green want.
“It is certainly my hope that given the various significant disadvantages of the city of Green route, it will end consideration of it as an alternative,” Pyles wrote.
Spectra Energy is proposing the 36-inch, 250-mile NEXUS gas transmission pipeline.
As planned, it will pass across Oberlin’s southern border and through Pittsfield Township.
The draft was filed with FERC and reviewed three proposed lines and how each would impact land, water, wildlife, soil, as well as hiring practices for construction.
Green’s alternative adds 9.9 miles to the route and moves the line away from Oberlin and nearly 3,000 feet northeast of the village of Wellington.
Wellington fire chief Mike Wetherbee said a pipeline is always a concern to his department and local officials.
“No matter where you put that pipeline it’s always going to affect people,” he said.
Pyles said he understands Spectra Energy’s need to bring new resources to market since he manages a public power agency in the village that’s a cycle gas-fired power plant.
However, he is nervous about bringing the NEXUS line close to Wellington, which had a 117,000-gallon gasoline leak near Maple Street three years ago. It caused several blocks to be evacuated.
Pyles had six main concerns about the NEXUS route proposed by CORN and Green:
• It would pass nearly 2,000 feet from an existing gas pumping and underground storage field east of town near Smith Road.
• The route would cross a busy CSX double mainline rail transport that passes less than a mile from the village.
• It would cross an existing high pressure transmission pipeline.
• The city of Green’s route would pass within 1,000 feet of a trailer home park which is north of Wellington.
• The route would also travel through farm land owned by the Amish and Mennonites.
• It would pass land that Pyles sees as an option to expand the village’s industrial park.
Pyles said he has seen a dramatic increase in millions of gallons of petroleum products being carried each day on the railroad.
“Those trains are a good mile long and could stretch back into the village,” he said, imagining what could happen if the gas line ruptured and a train had to be stopped.
Wetherbee said his department and village officials are already dealing with gas lines, natural gas storage units, trains, and tractor-trailers carrying a variety of products.
Despite his concerns about disasters caused by natural gas lines, he said the pipelines are “relatively safe.”
NEXUS spokesman Arthur Diestel said two alternative routes that have been put forward do not meet the company’s needs to hit target markets so Spectra Energy plans to move forward with its original proposed route.
“Given that the alternative route has not had the level of public information and involvement as the proposed route, I can say that FERC will find many in our community would be opposed to the alternative route,” Pyles wrote. “I think there’s some concerns in the fire district and township.”
He said village officials wanted to make sure FERC knew that they supported Spectra’s decision to keep the route to the north.
Paul Gierosky, a board member of the Coalition to Reroute Nexus, said the city of Green’s route was drafted to find a better way around heavily populated areas in Stark, Summit, Medina, and Lorain counties.
“The alternative route has been designed to rejoin the proposed NEXUS route in either Lorain or Erie county to allow for reasonable access to potential gas consumers on the western side of the Cleveland Metro area,” he said.
Spectra Energy will file its final application with FERC in late 2015 and is expected to begin construction in 2017.
Once construction begins, each section of the pipeline is expected to be completed within four to eight weeks.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-647-3171 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.