Residents address environmental concerns on Dominion project
Environmental issues with Dominion project raise concerns
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.