Res­i­dents ad­dress en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns on Do­min­ion project

En­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues with Do­min­ion project raise con­cerns

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @SykesIndyNews

Do­min­ion Cove Point LNG plans to op­er­ate a new com­pres­sor sta­tion for one of its pipe­lines to de­liver nat­u­ral gas to re­gional Wash­ing­ton Gas cus­tomers and the new Panda Funds Mat­ta­wom- an project, but it can­not do so with­out the bless­ing of the Fed­eral En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion.

And it can­not get fi­nal ap­proval from the com- mis­sion with­out first get- ting the ap­proval of the pub­lic. So on Thurs­day, the com­mis­sion hosted a pub­lic “scope” meet­ing to hear the pub­lic sen­ti­ment on the project for the first time.

Alisa Lykens, chief of Gas Branch 2 for FERC, said the com­mis­sion will ul­ti­mately take any con- cerns the cit­i­zens have into con­sid­er­a­tion when dis­cussing ap­provals for a project like this.

“It doesn’t have to be one spe­cific thing,” she said. “We’re look­ing for what­ever con­cerns the pub­lic may have.”

Karl Ned­de­nien, a pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer for Do­min­ion, said the sole pur­pose of the new fa­cil­ity would be as a com­pres­sor sta­tion to help gas flow to more cus­tomers. Nat­u­ral gas is a “clean, ef­fi­cient” fuel and does not do the same dam­age to the en­vi­ron­ment as coal.

Cit­i­zens were free to speak at the meet­ing in front of bi­ol­o­gists, ar­chae­ol­o­gists and com­mis­sion of­fi­cials at the meet­ing or sub­mit writ­ten com- ments ei­ther on­line or at the meet­ing. Cit­i­zens from around South­ern Mary­land sub­mit­ted com­ments.

The fa­cil­ity, which would be on a 50-acre plot of land owned by Do­min­ion, would be in a area sur­rounded by for­est and wet­lands in Ac­co­keek.

Daniel Dono­hue, a resi- dent of Ac­co­keek, said he had some con­cerns about the lo­ca­tion of the sta­tion.

Set to be con­structed on Bar­rys Hill Road, the sur­round­ing area is “sen­si­tive due to be­ing in the Po­tomac River Wa­ter- shed and the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay crit­i­cal area,” he said. That could lead to envi- ron­men­tal is­sues for the sur­round­ing area, Dono­hue said.

“It ap­pears that the pro­posed con­struc­tion could have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the wet­lands in the sur­round­ing area,” he said. “There are ospreys, hawks and ea­gles in the area and the air qual­ity could be ad­versely im­pacted due to dis­charge pipes.”

Ju­dith Allen-Leven­thal, also an Ac­co­keek res­i­dent, said the need for the com­pres­sor sta­tion in Charles County has not been es­tab­lished at this point. Though Do­min­ion owns the prop­erty, she said, the in­creased de­mand across the re­gion has not been es­tab­lished.

Nat­u­ral gas is not widely avail­able in the sur­round­ing area, she said, and the sta­tus of the Mat­ta­woman En­ergy Cen­ter is “not fully per­mit­ted and is pend­ing lit­i­ga­tion.”

Fur­ther­more, said Al- len-Leven­thal, the risk of en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age is too high at this point, not­ing it would be best to re­con­sider hav­ing a com- pres­sion sta­tion in the area.

“The risk of en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion in the ru­ral wet­land area by con­struct­ing the gas com- pres­sor sta­tion is clear,” she said. “Wet­lands could be com­pro­mised in a vari- ety of ways.”

On top of the en­v­i­ron- men­tal con­cerns, there are also con­cerns about noise pol­lu­tion from the me­chan­i­cal sys­tems on site that will im­pact both the wildlife and the resi- dents in the area, said Allen-Leven­thal.

Lykens said the cov­er­age area for the fa­cil­ity be­ing con­sid­ered is not one of the big­ger ar­eas the com­mis­sion has dealt with, but may be large for the area. The pub­lic com­ment will help de­ter­mine that, she said.

The process could take as long as a year to com­plete, ac­cord­ing to Lykens, and more writ­ten com­ments will be ac­cepted un­til mid-March.

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