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Pipeline expansion project to begin in Franklin Township on Aug. 29

08/16/2016 11:02AM ● Published by J. Chambless

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

On Aug. 29, Franklin Township residents should see construction beginning on a new natural gas pipeline loop in the Kemblesville area. The 2.1 miles of new buried 16-inch pipeline will parallel two existing 12-inch and eight-inch buried pipelines.

The Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company announced its proposed pipeline upgrade in July of 2014, and final approval to begin construction was granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Aug. 4, 2016. In the past two years, there have been many meetings and plan revisions, but according to Franklin Township Board of Supervisors chairman John Auerbach, the public has been kept well informed throughout the process.

The new pipeline will be constructed in Franklin Township from Hess Mill Road southeast to Walker Road. The pipeline will cross under Routes 896 and 841 and will pass through some densely populated areas.

“Considering the scope and impact of the construction activity, the public response has been very light,” Auerbach said last week. “The pipeline company has been working with individual properly owners, gaining permission and purchasing additional right-of-way. I am a bit concerned that there will an outbreak of inquiries once Eastern Shore starts digging.”

Auerbach added that, “I have had many discussions with Eastern Shore personnel of all disciplines. I believe they are highly competent and will install a pipeline of high integrity and safety.”

The pipeline expansion project also includes 3.3 miles of pipeline near Daleville in Chester County, as well as an expansion in Cecil County that will ultimately increase capacity to Eastern Shore's Delaware City compressor station in New Castle, Del. The expansion project has a list of 19 stringent environmental conditions that must be met.

A proposed timeline submitted by Eastern Shore indicates that construction and restoration should be completed on the Kemblesville Loop in May of 2017.

While the pipeline brings no financial gain to the township, Auerbach said, “The overall benefit is to the larger community as a whole. Without these larger natural gas and petroleum transmission pipelines, we would not enjoy the standard of living we are accustomed to. Overland transmission pipelines convey enormous amounts of energy over long distances far safer than any other transportation mode. Using rail or truck for this amount of material would lead to a public safety disaster.”

Eastern Shore has said that digging techniques used by crews should be only minimally disruptive to nearby homes. “In my professional career, I was the project engineer for numerous pipeline projects for my employer, a large chemical company,” Auerbach said. “All of my experience has been in relatively open country. Typically, a pipeline install requires a wide construction right of way of 100 feet.” The Eastern Shore proposed disruption is considerably smaller.

While public concern about the pipeline has been muted, Eastern Shore could have completed the project with a lot less public input, since they own the existing right of way.

“The township has no legal authority regulate transmission pipelines,” Auerbach said. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission provides all oversight and authorization. Eastern Shore has been very accommodating to the township in providing timely information about their activities.

“When they were considering a more circular route through more open land around the township, we were working more closely with them,” he added. “They did accept some of our suggestions, although they had no legal obligation to do so. Their overall attitude is one of cooperation and looking for opportunities to be less intrusive. Legally, they have the right to declare eminent domain. They advised this is their last resort in resolving a conflict. They much prefer to find an agreement or compromise.”

Updates on the construction will be posted on the township website, www.franklintownship.us.

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

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