Residents have concerns, want more info on pipeline

Courtesy Ipswich River Watershed AssociationThe map shows the natural gas pipeline's proposed route through the Ipswich River Watershed as it crosses through numerous cities and towns.

DANVERS — A group of residents plan to gather Thursday night at the Danvers library to learn more about Kinder Morgan's natural gas pipeline project and its possible effects on the Ipswich River and public drinking water supplies.

The lateral of a much larger pipeline project — the Northeast Energy Direct — this section is proposed to run through a small portion at the western edge of town where it will connect to an existing pipeline tap.

The new Danvers Residents for Pipeline Awareness group will hold its first meeting on March 10 at 7 p.m. in the Gordon Room of the Peabody Institute Library Danvers, 15 Sylvan St.

Resident Maxine Taymore is organizing the gathering, which will feature a speaker from the Ipswich River Watershed Association, information about the project, and a question and answer session.

The meeting will look at how the pipeline project might affect property and the public drinking water supply. 

Kinder Morgan's pipeline has proved controversial in Peabody as the proposed route follows the city's Independence Greenway bike path and skirts the Ipswich River.

Pipeline company's plans

Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, is proposing to construct the 420-mile pipeline project from Pennsylvania through New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut. Kinder Morgan says the project is to meet increased demand for natural gas, reduce energy costs in the region, and bring construction jobs to the area.

About 60 miles of pipeline laterals and loops would be built in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire, according to the project's fact sheet, which gives a timeline that the pipeline could be in service by the end of 2018.

"We are committed to public safety, protection of the environment and operation of our facilities in compliance with all applicable rules and regulations," said Kinder Morgan spokesman Richard Wheatley via email. "It is our goal to work openly and cooperatively with all stakeholders regarding environmental, health and safety issues."

Wheatley said Tennessee Gas monitors its pipelines 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the new pipeline's design will comply with federal regulations, including safety features such as extra wall thickness in more populated areas and road crossings. 

"Environmental inspectors will be employed during construction to ensure" best management practices "are implemented and that the project complies with applicable regulatory permits and approval conditions," Wheatley said, adding that wells within 200 feet of the project's work space will also be inspected.

Watershed concerns

Wayne Castonguay, the executive director of the Ipswich River Watershed Association, plans to speak at Wednesday's meeting and explain why his organization opposes the project.

He will focus on the possible affect to the ecology of the river's watershed and public drinking water supplies.

The association rarely opposes development projects, Castonguay said; it did not oppose a recent Spectra Energy pipeline project. Many pipelines cross rivers or streams in a perpendicular manner and move on, he said, but not so with this lateral.

"This pipeline is incredibly unique," Castonguay said, calling it a "greenfield pipeline" in that it passes through conservation areas and those set aside for public drinking water supply protection — the pipeline passes by seven public water supplies.

He said the lateral would follow the Ipswich River for a "considerable length," crossing the river at one spot and also crossing the river's tributaries. In all, it runs for 3 miles along the bank of the river, and is in close proximity to the river for 11 miles, he said.

Pointing to the fact that the pipeline is proposed to travel along Peabody's recreational bikeway, Castonguay noted 2 miles of this path are on the Ipswich River's bank.

Taymore said another concern in Danvers is while the proposed route will follow a power utility easement, the route passes through the Norris Brook conservation area. She also said the town's drinking water wells are located downstream from the proposed pipeline.

Pipeline path

In Danvers, the pipeline would be part of what is called the Peabody Lateral, and it is proposed to travel for 0.7 miles in town. The lateral's route travels through Lynnfield, Middleton, Peabody and Danvers.

"There is really not a big impact to us," said Danvers Town Engineer Richard Rodgers. The pipeline would come into town along power easements that run parallel to Emily Lane in West Peabody. It would skirt the capped town landfill on East Coast Road, then hook into an existing Tennessee Gas pipeline tap at the back edge of the business park on Rosewood Drive.

The project would not be near any homes in Danvers.

The town could also reap some tax dollars from the lateral — Wheatley said in a previous interview that Danvers could see about $150,000 in annual revenue after the pipeline is in service. Peabody is expected to receive about $400,000.

Selectmen Chairman Dan Bennett also plans to attend Wednesday's pipeline awareness meeting.

"The town sent a letter back in September that we would be an intervenor if [the pipeline] gets approved for public hearings," said Bennett, who noted the town's Conservation Commission would also attempt to negotiate to mitigate any effects from the project.

Bennett said he wants to hear what the pipeline awareness group has to say and bring that information back to selectmen.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.

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