By TOM RELIHAN
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
(Published in print: Wednesday, August 26, 2015)
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CONWAY — Citing public health concerns, Conway’s Board of Health has issued a cease-and-desist order against Kinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct natural gas pipeline project, joining a number of other communities that have passed similar measures.
The board’s decision was unanimous Monday night and the letter will be sent to Allen Fore, vice president of public affairs for the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan.
“Given the Town of Conway Board of Health concerns regarding the short- and long-term health and safety risks associated with the proposed Northeast (Energy) Direct Pipeline Project, the Board of Health hereby orders Kinder Morgan, any of their subsidiaries or affiliated companies, to immediately cease from carrying on the activities associated with the pipeline in the Town of Conway, Massachusetts,” the order read.
Chairman Carl Nelke said the board’s order differs from a similar action taken by neighboring Deerfield last fall — where the town’s Board of Health banned all activity related to the pipeline from occurring within the town’s limits under threat of legal action — because the town will not hire lawyers to enforce it or pursue any legal recourse if it is violated.
“They could just ignore it if they want, but at least it draws a line in the sand,” Nelke said.
Nelke said the town’s legal counsel advised them not to follow Deerfield’s example after the ban was passed last October.
Earlier this month, Northfield, where a 41,000-horsepower compressor station is expected to be built, issued its own cease and desist order against work related to the project, which would see the 30-inch diameter natural gas pipeline cross eight Franklin County towns on its way from Wright, N.Y., to Dracut, north of Lowell.
Conway passed a resolution at town meeting in the spring of 2014 formally opposing the project, and has formed an ad-hoc Pipeline Task Force to study the project.
The board also voted to send a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission expressing its support for the Pipeline Task Force’s submission to the federal agency’s environmental impact statement scoping process. The board cited its concerns about drinking water safety, noise and air pollution, safety and the health impacts of periodic gas releases along the pipeline.
“Given the increasing questions about the need for the proposed Northeast Direct natural gas infrastructure expansion, the Conway Board of Health strongly urges FERC to deny the application of Tennessee Gas Pipeline/Kinder Morgan for the NED Pipeline,” the letter read.
You can reach Tom Relihan at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 413-772-0261 ext. 264. On Twitter, follow @RecorderTom