Last evening I was pleasantly surprised to find nearly 50 people at our local West Hempfield Township meeting in Lancaster County, PA. I had been working with Ron Youtz, township manager, for several weeks, determining the best time to hold a Q&A session for residents regarding the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project that is being planned for Lancaster County by Williams Partners. Prior to the meeting, he had received calls from less than 5 people regarding the pipeline. When news broke through Lancasteronline.com, hours before the meeting, about a re-route of the pipeline east of the initial proposed route, Ron and I began to try to acquire as much information as possible from Williams. Williams did not share detailed maps with either of us, however, the a friend shared map images with me in time for the meeting. The unfortunate part of maps with few details, is it just leads to more frustration and unknowns.
While the board was receptive to our questions, they had no answers and seemed unprepared even for generalized questions that should have been expected in spite of the recent re-route news. The township informed us that they had given Williams right-of-way to survey ONLY on a property they own, connected to Fairview Park, near their woody waste facility. However, since the re-route, my assumption is that this parcel will no longer be on the proposed route, but will now be part of the alternate route.
Kent Gardner, on the board, shared that he is with the Clean Water Consortium and expressed that our concern would better be put into his efforts with the lack of clean water in the county and the pipeline posed less of a threat than our current water conditions. While I don’t disagree with him on the fact that our waterways could use some serious help, I was disappointed at his attempt to redirect the conversation on the issue at hand.
Another board member mentioned that large pipelines (40″ – 50″) already exist in West Hempfield. One is located very near to Farmdale Elementary which was recently built. There seemed to be a discrepancy between the board and audience not only on the size of existing pipelines in West Hempfield, but also as to whether or not they are high pressure pipelines. I will investigate this further and hope to have a section on this website soon dedicated to pipeline information for West Hempfield Township residents.
Several great questions were posed to the board. One resident asked if a pipeline explosion were to occur, is our West Hempfield Township fire department prepared to handle such a disaster? In one such case regarding a pipeline explosion, it impacted 8 acres. The township was unable to provide that answer but promised to look into this, as they are planning to do with most questions mentioned.
Mindy Roy, who owns a mobile home park off of Columbia Avenue, remarked that she was told by her insurance company that if a pipeline goes through her property, her commercial property insurance would require her to carry a higher liability risk, especially if she rents that property.
Another resident, whose home is 11 inches off of Prospect road and had mentioned that PennDot had already widened the road 4x since he lived there, voiced concerns over traffic on Prospect Road. This road is an already heavily traveled North to South route connecting Route 30 and Route 283 and traffic from pipeline construction would only create larger problems and greater risk for commuters.
Daniel Conley is a local farmer off of Prospect Road and his farm is an ag preserve. He informed the attendees and board that the pipeline that was run through his land in the 1940s is still evident by the crop issues they have encountered, to this day, where the pipeline has been placed. His concern is how can a pipeline be put through his property now that the property is an ag preserve? He wanted to know if the township would help him communicate his concerns with the ag preservation board. Malinda Clatterbuck, who joined the meeting from Holtwood, told Daniel Conley that how the ag preservation board has worded the preserve conditions, of no new buildings on top of land, that the wording avoids condemning a pipeline running under the land. She is asking the board to revise the wording. Williams Partners are well versed in the legal verbage that these preserves have used in an attempt to protect farmland and will use this verbage against property owners whose farms are ag preserves.
I was glad to see that Dan Forry attended the meeting, as he has one of the largest properties impacted by the pipeline in West Hempfield township. His farm is also an ag preserve and has been in his family for 150 years. A portion of his property is fed by natural springs instead of well water and those springs can produce large quantities of water in order to support his farm and hogs. Forry shared as reported by Lancasteronline.com:
“I have with me a letter from my insurance company and part of it reads if there is any compensation this would be considered a business other than farming and insurance coverage is excluded from the farm policy,” he said.
Forry said the letter recommended that he consult an attorney to determine if the pipeline company would provide insurance to protect this exposure.
“This would be a separate policy from the farm policy and at an added expense,” he said.
Forry said his farm has been in his family for 150 years and he raises thousands of hogs a year.
Those hogs rely on several natural springs on the farm — some of which produce up to 30 gallons per minute — and that a pipeline could impact that water source.
“I don’t want to build a well,” he said.
Jodi Swartz Rankin, whose property is off of Prospect Road, asked the board for them to support her in the fight against the pipeline, as her property, even in the re-route, will most likely abut the pipeline. This sentiment was supported by attendees but the Township was yet unable to provide support or answers to residents and concerned citizens.
The township has agreed to make information from Williams available to them either through their website or the newsletter. The board of supervisors chair mentioned that if we have a town meeting, he would like to solicit local legislatures and a Williams representative to speak at the meeting to ensure we receive more definitive answers. However, he did express his concern that it seems unlikely a Williams representative would attend given their lack of history of facing the public.
I will be working with Ron to make sure the proper FERC information is put up on the township website, and to see if we can organize a town meeting, at a larger location, in order to give more solid information to the public. This will be especially important once letters have been received regarding the re-route.
A primary route and alternatives will be filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as part of the company’s application with the agency early next year. FERC has final say on whether on pipeline approval and will hold an open house later this Summer. To voice your opinion to FERC you may do so by:
Submiting electronically: https://ferconline.ferc.gov/QuickComment.aspx
Submitting snail mail:
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20426
Attention: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Reference: Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC
Atlantic Sunrise Project
Docket No. PF14-8
Atlantic Sunrise ID is PF14-8-000
To become more involved in protesting the pipeline, visit:
To contact the Township Directly:
The existing Texas Eastern Transmission pipeline, which runs through West Hempfield and directly north of the Farmdale development area, is controlled by Spectra Energy. I spoke with a rep who confirmed 2 pipelines exist in West Hempfield and run parallel to one another. One is a 20″ line with 656 PSI. The other is a 36″ line with 1000 PSI max allowed.
Chris Stockton at Williams Partners confirmed that the pipeline proposed for the Atlantic Sunrise Project, Central Penn South pipeline is proposed at 42″ diameter and the maximum allowed is 1480 PSI. They now have an outreach contact for our area is Megan Stafford. She can be reached at 713-215-3092.
I will inform the township of this information since the supervisors did not know what was proposed from Williams Partners.