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Spectra Energy Pipeline Work Begins Amid Controversy

7-31-12

Crews were out in Bayonne today doing preliminary work for Spectra Energy’s 20-mile natural gas pipeline. It will wind through parts of Bayonne, Jersey City and off shore Hoboken. Critics say this route is too close to highly populated areas.

“It’s running through very important areas — schools parks, hospitals,” said Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy. “For reasons of public safety and also for reasons for the future economic viability of our city, we’re going to continue our opposition.”

To highlight safety concerns, the mayor’s office released a video several months ago showing the deadly results of natural gas explosions that have occurred in recent years. Other opponents continue to fight the $1 billion project, despite the fact that it has been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

“We think that this pipeline is very dangerous in terms of safety,” said Dale Hardman, No Gas Pipeline president. “All you have to do is look at the San Bruno disaster outside of San Francisco.”

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Spectra Energy Spokesperson Marylee Hanley initially agreed to do an interview, but later declined, asking to wait a few weeks until the project had progressed further. She released a statement saying “the project followed a diligent, multi-year review by FERC, as well as state officials in both New York and New Jersey.” She adds that “Spectra Energy will maintain a rigorous oversight program to ensure that the pipeline is one of the safest.”

“That’s all good. It’s better than their original plan but it still doesn’t remove the basic big time problem, and that is public safety,” Healy said.

Spectra Energy claims it has listened to these and other concerns. As proof, the company’s website highlights several changes that have been made to enhance safety. Among them, the 30-inch pipe will be patrolled seven days a week and the pipe’s wall will be thicker, exceeding federal regulations.

The company website also notes that drilling techniques will be used to minimize construction impacts. And Spectra touts many benefits of the projects such as the reduction of energy costs, the elimination of 6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year and the creation of thousands of jobs.

“Marylee Hanley, the spokeswoman for Spectra Energy said off camera that she could not guarantee that even one job would go to anybody in Jersey City,” Hardman said.

Mayor Healy and Hardman of No Gas Pipeline say they have petitioned FERC to reconsider its approval of the project and if necessary they plan to go to court to try to stop it.

Desiree Taylor reports from Jersey City.