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Concerns Mount For U.S. Compressor Stations

Past two months filled with public protests, fires


Compressor stations in the eastern United States have been plagued by an outbreak of fires and public protests over the past two months.

On May 14, the Williams Partners LP gas compressor station in Brooklyn Township, Pennsylvania, sustained moderate damage due to a fire that stemmed from a 4000 hp (2983 kW) compressor. It was the second fire at a Williams’ compressor station in a 14-month span. The first was an explosion at the Lathrop compressor station in Springville Township, Pennsylvania, that blew a hole in the roof of the building in March 2012.

On May 30, an explosion at a natural gas facility in Branchburg, New Jersey, injured 13 construction workers, with two suffering severe injuries. The workers were welding part of a nonactive pipe when the explosion took place.

The explosions and fires have not been as common as the public outcry against compressor stations. On June, Millennium Pipeline began operations at its Minisink, New York, compressor station, one that was met along the way with opposition from local residents, including a group known as Stop the Minisink Compressor Station (StopMSC).

In Myersville, Maryland, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied a request from local residents to reconsider its approval of a Dominion Transmission compressor station. The Myersville Citizens for a Rural Community met last week to discuss further action to oppose the project. Dominion wants to build a 15,000 hp (11,185 kW) facility off Milt Summers Road. The FERC approved the project in December.

Residents in Roseland, New Jersey have been protesting the expansion of a compressor station, which prompted a scare recently when an elementary school evacuated its occupants due to the fear of a gas leak.

Opposition is brewing in Milford, Pennsylvania, where Columbia Gas plans to upgrade a compressor station from 660 hp (492 kW) to 6600 hp (4922 kW). Columbia expects the project to be finished by 2015. At a June 17 public meeting, residents and government representatives voiced concerns about emissions and noise.

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