The company proposing the NEXUS natural gas pipeline is taking heat.
Spectra Energy was criticized at Monday’s city council meeting over Friday’s natural gas pipeline explosion in Western Pennsylvania.
The explosion burned and critically injured a resident, caused the evacuation of nine families, and severely damaged a few homes, according to the Canton Repository.
John Elder, a spokesman for Communities for Safe and Sustainable Energy, said the NEXUS pipeline would endanger lives were a similar explosion to occur. The proposed 36-inch, 250-mile pipeline would run through Ohio and Michigan, including part of Oberlin.
City officials have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to make Spectra reroute the pipeline outside Oberlin. They say Spectra’s plan calls for it to pass within 95 feet of Reserve Avenue homes, roughly 1,100 feet from the Lorain County Metro Parks Splash Zone, nearly 1,800 feet from the Oberlin fire station, 4,200 feet from the Lorain County JVS, and 2,000 feet from Welcome Nursing Home.
Elder said the NEXUS pipeline would run alongside an existing jet fuel pipeline. He said an explosion like the one in Salem Township, Pa., located near Scranton and Wilkes Barre, could endanger Reserve residents as well as residents on Cambridge Circle and Nantucket Circle.
Elder said there was good reason why some 70 percent of Oberlin residents passed a Community Bill of Rights ordinance in 2013. The ordinance bans fracking and related infrastructure such as pipelines carrying fracked gas within 20 miles of Oberlin.
Whether the local ordinance supersedes state and federal law hasn’t been determined.
Elder urged council and city officials to continue opposing the project.
“Not in Oberlin. Not anywhere,” he said. “Rerouting would simply move the risk of this unneeded fossil fuel infrastructure into another area.”
Ian Nickey, a spokesman for Hicks Partners, a public relations company representing Spectra, wouldn’t comment Tuesday, but Spectra’s website said six of the nine evacuated families had returned to their homes Sunday.
Spectra said it is working with the federal Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to determine the cause of the explosion and it is committed to safety.
“Our hearts and thoughts are with the injured man and his family as well as the community as a whole,” the website said. “We live and work in Salem Township.”
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.
Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune John Elder, Communities for Safe and Sustainable Energy spokesman, denounced Spectra Energy’s NEXUS natural gas pipeline project at Monday’s City Council meeting. Elder said it was unsafe citing Friday’s explosion of a Spectra pipeline in Western Pennsylvania that critically injured a man.