Some in Bergen County Fear Increase in Gas Pipeline Capacity

By Desiree Taylor

The Williams Company, which gathers, processes and transports natural gas, is considering increasing the flow through a pipeline that runs through six towns in Bergen County. Company spokesman Christopher Stockton says, “There isn’t a proposed plan. It’s something we will evaluate…”

But local officials and some residents have expressed concerns. River Vale Business Administrator Gennaro Rotella says, “This is a safety issue.” He referenced gas leaks in other parts of the country as one reason why he has reservations.

Local officials also question whether the pipeline, which is more than 50 years old, can handle the increased pressure. But Stockton says tests will be done to ensure it continues to operate safely at the new operating pressure. The hydrostatic tests are required by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, because the pipeline runs through highly populated areas. They include Old Tappan, Harrington Park, Emerson, Oradell, Paramus and River Vale.

River Vale officials say they’ve received little information from the Williams Company about its intentions. As a result, they haven’t been able to properly inform residents. Williams Company officials have not scheduled any public hearings. But Rotella says representatives from the Williams Company plan to meet with local officials in May. If the company decides to increase the flow, which requires federal approval, it would likely begin in 2015.