Volume 80, Number 13 | August 26 - September 1, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

More gas worries with Jersey pipeline headed to Gansevoort

By Albert Amateau

West Villagers have yet another gas problem in addition to the potential danger from hydrofracture gas drilling in the New York City watershed.

The newest concern is a proposed natural gas pipeline that Spectra Energy wants to build from New Jersey across Staten Island and under the Hudson River to the Gansevoort Market District to connect with Con Edison’s gas lines.

The project will need a slew of federal, state and city approvals before construction is scheduled to begin in 2012. Completion is expected around November 2013.

“We’re concerned about the impact on public safety, traffic and noise during the construction period,” said Jo Hamilton, chairperson of Community Board 2, whose district includes the Meatpacking District area, the West Village and Greenwich Village. The board is planning an Oct. 5 public meeting on the project, at a time and place to be determined early next month, with representatives from Spectra, Con Edison and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Hamilton said.

Spectra and Con Edison met with the C.B. 2 Environment, Public Safety and Public Health Committee and representatives of Borough President Scott Stringer and Congressmember Jerrold Nadler on Aug. 11.

According to preliminary plans, the project will involve a total of 20 miles of new pipeline between 30 feet and 40 feet below grade from Linden, N.J., across the northwest corner of Staten Island, through Bayonne, N.J., and Jersey City, then under the Hudson River to the southwest corner of the Gansevoort Peninsula, where it will slant up to 3 feet below grade at Gansevoort St. near the service road on the east side of 10th Ave. At the Aug. 11 meeting, a Spectra representative said the company would try to minimize traffic interruption during construction where the pipeline crosses the West Side Highway.

Con Edison would continue the pipeline along 10th Ave. up to W. 14th St. to connect to the Con Edison natural gas distribution system.

“We supply natural gas to all of Manhattan, the Bronx and Westchester and we need the pipeline for reliability,” said Chris Olert, a Con Edison spokesperson. Exactly where the pipeline would connect with Con Edison is subject to adjustment, Olert said.

The project is still in the scoping phase for its environmental impact statement, or E.I.S., and written submissions may be submitted to FERC until Aug. 20.

“But we’ve been assured that anything received after that date will still be accepted,” Hamilton said. “Since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission doesn’t intend to file for the E.I.S. until early December, we will all have time for a thorough review.”

Marylee Hanley, a Spectra spokesperson, said, “We are in the early stages of the project that will transport an additional 800 million cubic feet per day of natural gas into the area and are currently evaluating several routing options for the proposed alignment of the pipeline.”

The Hudson River Park Trust state-city agency has jurisdiction of the Gansevoort Peninsula, where the Trust plans to build a part of the 5-mile Hudson River Park sometime after 2013. David Katz, the Trust’s marketing vice president, said the pipeline is not expected to interfere with the park project. The peninsula is still being used by the city Department of Sanitation to park garbage trucks. However, Katz said, “We are working with Spectra to make sure the pipeline project does not impact current use and future park plans.”

Spectra said the new pipeline, officially known as the New Jersey-New York Expansion, would result in about 100 construction jobs in 2012 and 500 in 2013 when construction is in full swing. The project would also generate $10 million in tax revenues, the company said.

Regarding safety, Hanley said, “The pipeline will be built to exceed highest safety standards set by the federal government.” Meter stations along the route continuously monitor pipelines for leaks and pressure loss, she said, and valves can be closed by remote control. In addition, inspectors physically check the land around the pipeline three times a week, Hanley said.

In addition to FERC, the Army Corps of Engineers must sign off on the project. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard are among the federal agencies consulted in the approval process.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and state Department of Transportation must review the project, along with the Hudson River Park Trust. The city Department of Transportation must approve the right of way and issue construction and street-opening permits. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has a review role in the process, and the city Department of Environmental Protection must issue an infrastructure permit. Moreover, for the segments of the pipeline in New Jersey, six agencies will have to review the project.

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