BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — The proposed route of a natural gas pipeline to a power plant developers hope to build on the Salem waterfront extends along a 1-mile section of land and water between Beverly Harbor and Salem Harbor Station.
Algonquin Gas, operators of a major offshore pipeline from Beverly to Weymouth, filed a request this week with the Conservation Commission to do exploratory borings along the tentative route.
The pipeline appears to run largely through National Grid property and city land.
State Rep. John Keenan, who has been briefed by company officials, said it would have a “minimal impact” on residents.
However, some of the borings being requested are near Salem neighborhoods.
While the majority of the borings are in Beverly Harbor, where the smaller 16-inch pipeline would connect to the main gas line, there are other borings requested on National Grid property near Pierce Avenue, near the Ward 2 Social Club on East Collins Street and adjacent to Szetela Lane, a public street that runs from Essex Street to Memorial Drive.
Although the precise route of the pipeline is not known, the borings suggest that it would run from the connection point in Beverly Harbor, not far from Veterans Memorial Bridge, to the Fort Avenue site where Footprint Power plans to build a natural gas plant.
The request to do exploratory borings is one of the first steps in a pipeline project that is a key part of Footprint Power’s plan to build a new plant at Salem Harbor Station. It will be the subject of local hearings and also require federal approval.
Algonquin, a subsidiary of Spectra Energy, is hoping to get on the agenda for the Sept. 12 meeting of the Salem Conservation Commission, according to the filing with the city’s Planning Department.
A similar request is being made to the Beverly Conservation Commission.
Another part of the project expected to draw attention is Algonquin’s request to do deep borings in Beverly Harbor and Collins Cove, an inlet in Salem, where it will explore the feasibility of a technology known as horizontal directional drilling, in which pipes are laid deep under a body of water.
As part of the exploratory borings, Algonquin Gas plans to use drill rigs and divers and take rock core samples as deep as 100 feet, according to the filing.
Coincidentally, horizontal directional drilling is the same technology National Grid has rejected as too costly and too difficult to repair for a controversial cable replacement project in this general area of the city that is currently under review. The utility has to replace high-voltage electrical cables that run between substations at the power plant and on Canal Street.
As part of that project, which is not directly connected to Footprint Power’s project, National Grid investigated the possibility of running cables under Salem Harbor. A contentious public meeting on the project was held Wednesday night.
In the next few days, Algonquin Gas, or a firm working for Algonquin, is expected to send out notices about the exploratory borings and its tentative plans. They will be mailed to residents on Pierce Avenue, Planters Street, East Collins Street, Webb Street, Settlers Way and other roads near the proposed route, according to the filing.
If approved, the gas pipeline project would start in 2015, a local official said.
Tom Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.