Oberlin’s efforts to force a reroute of the NEXUS pipeline are being applauded by groups concerned about the 255-mile natural gas transmission project.
Paul Gierosky, spokesman for the Coalition to Reroute Nexus, said his group hopes to work with city officials in their movement to reject the proposed route, which travels through Pittsfield Township and southern Oberlin.
Members of CORN and the city of Green, Ohio, have urged Spectra Energy for the past year to reroute the NEXUS line to the south through less populous areas.
“The alternative route investigated and designed by the city of Green would mean 70 percent fewer homes disrupted by the pipeline construction and more than 50 percent reduction in the interference with environmentally sensitive ares,” Gierosky said in a written statement.
Oberlin council members have hired the law offices of Carolyn Elefant to work with the city’s law director Jon Clark in seeking to move the 36-inch pipeline out of the municipal limits.
The proposed line, if approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission next year, would pass near homes on Reserve Avenue, the Splash Zone, and the city’s recreation complex.
Spectra filed with FERC on Nov. 20, asking for approval by November 2016. If approved, the gas company plans to begin construction in early 2017.
That means the pipeline could be in service by the end of that year.
CORN and Green worked together to draft a reroute to NEXUS. The gas company also considered a secondary route on paper.
Spectra’s pre-filed draft report in June with FERC ruled both reroutes, saying neither meets the project’s target needs and markets.
Green’s route added 9.9 miles and moved the pipeline away from Oberlin’s southern border and closer to the village of Wellington.
The gas company’s alternative route added 2.7 miles to the proposed route and moved it out of Lorain County.
Clark told council members the pipeline would be 95 feet away from one or more homes on Reserve Avenue.
“The rupture of a high-pressure natural gas pipeline can lead to outcomes that can pose a significant threat to people and property in the immediate vicinity of the failure location,” Gierosky said. “The dominant hazard is thermal radiation from a sustained fire. In these high consequence areas property damage and the chance of serious or fatal injury would be expected to be significant in the event of a rupture failure.”
Gierosky said he spoke with experts from the Gas Research Institute who have indicated the blast zone for this size line would be nearly 1,100 to 1,500 feet in radius.
“That means nearly instant destruction of the homes along the Reserve and the first responders from the Oberlin fire department would be so impaired they could not assist in any rescue,” he said.
Clark said the city of Green, CORN, and Oberlin’s objectives are all the same but city officials plan to retain outside forces in an effort to keep the pipeline away from the city limits.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.