Responsible Pipeline

 

In late 2014, New Jersey Natural Gas Company (NJNG) launched a very secretive, quiet, survey of certain portions of five NJ municipalities lying in Burlington, Monmouth and Ocean Counties, and one Federal jurisdiction.

 

The purpose of that survey activity was to lay out the route (or several alternatives) for NJNG's anticipated "Southern Reliability Link".  This 30-inch, 722 pounds-per-square-inch transmission inTRAstate pipeline is planned to start near the New Jersey Turnpike near Bordentown and make its way  south and easterly through Chesterfield Township, North Hanover Township (both in Burlington County), Upper Freehold Township (in Monmouth County), and Plumsted Township (in Ocean County), adjoining the Federal jurisdiction Joint Base - McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, with the pipeline's southern terminus in Manchester Township (in Ocean County).  The ultimate goal, as stated by NJNG, is to have a dual-sourced supply of natural gas to mitigate loss of service to its shore area Monmouth and Ocean County customers and a few in a small area of Burlington County.

 

The premise (or excuse) that NJNG pointed to with respect to the construction of the "Southern Reliability Link" was Superstorm Sandy which hit NJNG's northeastern service area in Ocean County in 2012.  But they fail to tell the whole story.  A very limited portion of their service area was affected, that being in and around the storm-damaged area.  In fact, no one in the southern Ocean County area beyond Brick Township nor any in greater Monmouth County lost any gas service at all.

 

The problem with the planned route for this transmision pipeline is that it will be running through areas: of preserved farmland and open space (which taxpayer money helped purchase); that are pre- and Revolutionary War historical and which have structures in excess of 200 years old, many of which are on the National and NJ State Historic Registers; that border the NJ Veterans' Cemetery , a Quaker cemetery , and the Zion United Methodist Cemetery where not only are the remains of military loved ones and historical persons interred, but which see hundreds of visitors each day; that are traversed by multitudes of trucks , horse trailers, and farm equipment that service and work the farms and fields; that are adjacent to a public golf course; that are residential and residential/agricultural where a number of those residences are within 100 feet of the planned pipeline right-of-way; that are shaded by old-growth trees whose roots will be disturbed upon excavation and which will weaken the trees, possibly causing damage to the structures nearby if those trees fall; that are part of the Monmouth County Park System where recreational pursuits are engaged in by numerous persons on a daily basis; and that involve the Crosswicks Creek  as it crosses from Ocean County into Monmouth County under County Route 537 -- the public roadway that will carry the pipeline in the easterly direction to County Route 539 -- which will carry the pipeline south through a portion of the Pinelands National Reserve to the Joint Base-MDL and thence to Manchester Township.  Pipeline construction and repaving in these two roads will cause a severe traffic congestion problem as well as great disturbance of the Crosswicks Creek and its access at County Route 537 and the planned inter-tie of the Union Transportation Trail from Plumsted to Upper Freehold that would occur via a box culvert under County Route 537.  Again, this is a Park System property which sees hundreds of users per week walking, biking, hiking, or horse-back riding.

 

Bottom line:  Such a pipeline is not convenient, safe, or desirable in inhabited residential areas, under roadways where there is heavy truck traffic as well as heavy volume vehicular traffic daily, near cemeteries, golf courses, parks, waterways, or other preserved lands where people may be present.  Nor is it wanted if it will not give any benefit to anyone along its route -- just a big liability.

 

Adding insult to injury, TRANSCO (an inTERstate gas transmission pipeline operator) has submitted a petition to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under the simple title "Garden State Expansion" and was issued Docket Number CP15-89-000.  It has been determined that a compressor station is part of this "Garden State Expansion" project and IT would be the feed point of the SRL in Chesterfield and located adjacent to the New Jersey Turnpike and CR-528.  A compressor station raises the pressure of the natural gas in the transmission pipeline so that the gas will move through the pipeline system to its ultimate destination.  Compressor stations have either electric-motor driven turbine stages or engines that take some of the pipeline gas to operate the compressor turbine stages.  These are large -- on the order of 30,500 HP (horsepower), noisy, and run 24/7.  Compressor stations also have venting or "blow-down" facilities which operate to regulate the pressure in the pipeline under normal operating conditions or to relieve the pipeline of pressure during emergency conditions.  These ventings of gas are not announced to the public and often there is no odor evident when they do occur because the natural gas odorant has not been introduced into the transmission pipeline. (That is generally done at the "city gate" where the pressure is reduced and the gas is piped into the lower-pressure distribution mains.)  There are always leaks of methane in these facilities, and while small ones dissipate to the atmosphere and get diluted to very low concentrations, large leaks can and do occur which create the potential for explosive events.  The location of this particular compressor station, if built, would be at the center of a 1-mile radius in which 4 schools, several churches, residential neighborhoods and retail commercial establishments, as well as a major north-south roadway and a heavily-travelled rural east-west county road are located.  Bottom line:  Such an infrastructure should not be located as proposed due to its inherent risks and operational features.

 

The Problem