Bryans Road res­i­dents sur­prised by Do­min­ion gas pipe­line purge

‘Blow­down’ was part of Cove Point line main­te­nance; an­other sched­uled for Mon­day

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By PAUL LAGASSE pla­gasse@somd­news.com

Fri­day night’s purge of a nat­u­ral gas pipe­line run­ning through North­west Charles County star­tled res­i­dents and raised con­cerns of a pos­si­ble leak.

Res­i­dents who live near the 50-acre par­cel owned by Do­min­ion En­ergy Cove Point LLC on Bar­rys Hill Road between Bryans Road and Ac­co­keek said that they had not been no­ti­fied that the purge, called a “blow­down,” had been sched­uled.

The prop­erty is the pro­posed site of a nat­u­ral gas com­pres­sor sta­tion that Do­min­ion wants to build to serve cus­tomers in South­ern Mary­land.

Do­min­ion spokesper­son Karl Ned­de­nien said that the ac­tiv­i­ties at the site were not re­lated to the pro­posed com­pres­sor sta­tion.

“Do­min­ion En­ergy Cove Point LNG has be­gun a main­te­nance and in­spec­tion out­age that is sched­uled to last about three weeks, con­tin­gent on weather and other con­di­tions,” Ned­de­nien told the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent.

“Work will con­sist of main­te­nance ac­tiv­i­ties and in­spec­tions of equip­ment and sys­tems in­volved in the pro­duc­tion of liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas.”

Ned­de­nien said that dur­ing the out­age, the com­pany will be con­duct­ing “main­te­nance-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties” such as equip­ment in­spec­tions on the pipe­line, which serves the Cove Point LNG ter­mi­nal in Calvert County.

Ac­cord­ing to Ned­de­nien, a “con­trolled vent­ing” was sched­uled for Mon­day, Sept. 24, though neigh­bors re­ported that they heard what they be­lieved was vent­ing on Fri­day evening.

An­other vent­ing is sched­uled at the site on ei­ther Mon­day, Oct. 1, or Tues­day, Oct. 2.

To min­i­mize the amount of nat­u­ral gas to be vented, op­er­a­tors first re­duced the pres­sure in the pipe­line prior to the vent­ing op­er­a­tion, Ned­de­nien said.

A Charles County Gov­ern­ment spokesper­son said that Do­min­ion had no­ti­fied the county’s emer­gency ser­vices depart­ment on Thurs­day about the pend­ing work. How-

ever, neigh­bors said they had not re­ceived any prior no­tice from the com­pany.

At­tempts to reach the Bryans Road Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment to find out if they had been no­ti­fied by Do­min­ion were un­suc­cess­ful.

Kelly Cana­van, pres­i­dent of the Ac­co­keek, Mat­ta­woman, Pis­cat­away Creeks Com­mu­ni­ties Coun­cil, wrote in a bul­letin to AMP Creek Coun­cil mem­bers that when she vis­ited the site Fri­day evening seek­ing in­for­ma­tion from the con­trac­tors who were do­ing the work, the smell of nat­u­ral gas was so strong that it made her and her col­leagues “nau­seous and dizzy.”

Shortly af­ter, Cana­van re­ported that she and sev­eral neigh­bors could hear a “roar­ing sound” that she be­lieved sig­naled a blow­down in progress.

Res­i­dents who spoke with the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent said that they had not been no­ti­fied in ad­vance that the work had been sched­uled.

Dr. Theresa Lazar of Bar­rys Hill Road said that she called the Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice on Sun­day to re­port the noise, which she and her fam­ily could hear from in­side their house.

Lazar said that they used noise-de­tec­tor apps on their smart­phones to cal­cu­late that the sound av­er­aged 55 deci­bels on Sun­day night.

Sher­iff’s deputies re­port­edly took sound mea­sure­ments of their own, though Lazar said that she hasn’t yet heard what the re­sults were.

Hid­den Val­ley Road res­i­dent Christina Shotwell went fur­ther, call­ing the Mary­land Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment and then, at their sug­ges­tion, 911 be­cause she feared the sound was due to mal­func­tion­ing pipe­line ma­chin­ery.

She de­scribed the sound of Fri­day night’s vent­ing ac­tiv­ity as “a rum­ble” that could be clearly heard in­side her house, which is about 1/2 mile from the Do­min­ion com­pound.

“I wasn’t no­ti­fied at all about it,” Shotwell said.

Ned­de­nien con­firmed that the com­pany did not no­tify res­i­dents in ad­vance about the vent­ing pro­ce­dure.

“We made all re­quired no­ti­fi­ca­tions,” Ned­de­nien said. “No pub­lic no­ti­fi­ca­tion was re­quired.”

Many res­i­dents in the Bryans Road-Ac­co­keek area in­clud­ing the Moyaone Re­serve have ob­jected to the in­stal­la­tion of the pro­posed nat­u­ral gas com­pres­sor sta­tion there, fear­ing that it would pose fire and health risks, and that its op­er­a­tion would dis­rupt the tran­quil en­vi­ron­ment with fre­quent blow­downs.

In March, Do­min­ion sued the county gov­ern­ment and the board of ap­peals in fed­eral court over the board’s denial of a spe­cial zon­ing ex­cep­tion for the com­pres­sor sta­tion.

How­ever, fol­low­ing the launch of a cam­paign by the Mount Ver­non Ladies’ As­so­ci­a­tion in June op­pos­ing the con­struc­tion of the com­pres­sor sta­tion, Do­min­ion has since agreed to at­tempt to find an al­ter­nate lo­ca­tion.

Ear­lier this month, the judge in the fed­eral suit agreed to tem­po­rar­ily post­pone a hear­ing that had been sched­uled for this week pend­ing the out­come of Do­min­ion’s search.

MDE has also stopped pro­cess­ing two per­mits re­lated to the con­struc­tion of the com­pres­sor sta­tion while Do­min­ion in­ves­ti­gates pos­si­ble al­ter­na­tives.

STAFF PHOTO BY PAUL LAGASSE

Nat­u­ral gas vent­ing equip­ment was in­stalled at the Do­min­ion En­ergy Cove Point LLC prop­erty on Bar­rys Hill Road over the week­end to con­duct a purge of the pipe­line that serves the Cove Point ter­mi­nal in Calvert County.

STAFF PHOTO BY PAUL LAGASSE

Res­i­dents near the 50-acre Do­min­ion par­cel in Bryans Road were sur­prised Fri­day evening by the sound of a nat­u­ral gas vent­ing op­er­a­tion about which they had not been no­ti­fied.

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