Concerned about the potential health effects from compressor stations and other infrastructure connected to the shale gas industry, some local officials have joined a prominent physicians’ group in urging state leaders to conduct the same type of study that led the Cuomo administration to ban hydraulic fracturing.
“The governor is in an awkward position on this because the state Health Department convinced him to put a ban on fracking, and the health concerns with these compressor stations and pipeline are really no different,” Schoharie Town Supervisor Gene Milone said Wednesday.
In recent comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Medical Society of the State of New York, a physicians’ association, noted compressor stations routinely vent methane gas, and noted chemical and radioactive emissions not only occur near well pads but also along pipelines.
The organization went on to state that the emissions include “dangerous mixtures” of carcinogens, mutagens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, respiratory irritants and hematological and cardiovascular toxins.
Citing those risks as well as the potential for pipelines and compressors to be damaged by accidents and natural disasters, it called on “all levels of government” to take up a health assessment review of natural gas infrastructure.
A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Conservation, one of the state executive agencies overseen by Cuomo, offered no immediate response when asked if the agency would consider having an environmental health assessment completed on gas infrastructure.
The agency is expected to act soon on the Constitution Pipeline company’s request for water certificates needed before the construction of the 124-mile transmission system running from Pennsylvania to the Schoharie town of Wright can commence.
Toxic emissions from compressor stations have been among the chief concerns of activists fighting energy giant Kinder Morgan’s proposed compressor station for the town of Franklin. That 30,000-horsepower station would sit near the border of Otego in Otsego County, and would help move gas along the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline that would be run by Kinder Morgan subsidiary Tennessee Gas Co.
A rally will be held by Compressor Free Franklin at noon Thursday near a home at 483 Van Tassell Road in Franklin. Several Otego residents have also joined the fight against that compressor station, saying their community would be downwind from it.
A builder of compressor stations, Snelson Companies Inc., states on its web site that emissions from the stations are “clean and low,” or about 25 parts per million, and that a typical station is about as noisy as “your household dishwasher.”
In addition the the Franklin compressor, Kinder Morgan also wants to put two more compressor stations in the town of Schoharie, where Milone said he is opposed to all new natural gas infrastructure, including the Constitution Pipeline and the NED pipeline.
The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors has recently passed a resolution throwing its support behind the call for a full environmental health study on gas infrastructure.
In Delaware County, Davenport Town Supervisor Dennis Valente voiced similar concerns.
Valente said he agreed that a full environmental assessment on health risks from compressors and pipelines should be undertaken by state regulators. He called on them not to “rush” just because the industry is pressing for quick approval of the projects.
“Everything does have consequences, and so we need to measure those consequences against the actual benefits,” said Valente, noting his community will not benefit from the gas being transported by the proposed parallel pipelines and contending some of the gas is destined to be sold in foreign markets.
This article was written by Joe Mahoney from The Daily Star, Oneonta, N.Y. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.