‘Highway for fracked gas is a punch in the gut’

Last modified: 6/9/2015 9:57:01 AM
A heavy thud landed in my chest when we got the news that Kinder Morgan had finalized its decision to put a pipeline compressor station on the SKAT land in New Ipswich, just south of Temple’s border. Not that it was a surprise.

We’d seen their out-of-state vehicles parked along the roads, and knew they were surveying it again and again. But seeing the public listing of where it would be sited if the proposal gets approved made it feel less like a potential nightmare and more like a real one. Then I saw their new maps with all the houses and an adjacent farm shown as little yellow dots and a red dot for “other.” That “other” is Temple’s Elementary School! My heart sank.

We already knew that the school was within the pipeline “burn zone.” But the next jolt was noticing a drawing of a ½-mile zone surrounding the site that encircled many of the houses and our school. It meant they are also within a particularly vulnerable zone for compressor leaks, fires and explosions! And the school, by the way, doubles as Temple’s emergency shelter!

I began to flash back to conversations I’d had in March with parents of kids at our school who have asthma. After watching a video about compressor stations and their hazardous emissions at an informational meeting, one of them asked, “What can be done to stop this? We just can’t let that happen near the kids’ school, because some of our kids absolutely can’t handle breathing toxic emissions.” Turns out a couple of the teachers are in the same boat.

So, learning that Kinder Morgan has sited their compressor station within a ½-mile from our school is heartbreaking! Especially, since it’s planned to be among the largest in the country at 80,000 horsepower.

An older man also approached me after that meeting to say how worried he is about the noise problem compressor stations are known for. He has a serious condition triggered by strong, low-frequency sound.

Then a neighbor told me that he might have to move his family out of Temple if their house ends up within the 2 mile radius of the compressor station. After doing his own research and discovering all the nationwide reports on health impacts common for folks who live or work within 2 miles of one, he’s afraid that a serious brain condition he has, which renders him unable to function after any exposure to toxic emissions, will force him to move.

Sadly and ironically, he’d come to Temple to get away from air pollution, actually moved here in good measure for the clean air and lack of industry.

Hearing all these concerns, and knowing the devastation it will cause as the bulldozers level a 150-foot wide swath of land through 71 miles of southern New Hampshire, felling trees, crossing 40 conservation areas, rivers, wetlands, contaminating aquifers and wells, and using the private property of 822 New Hampshire households in 17 towns — it’s a nightmare!

Adding insult to injury, we’ve learned that the price hikes weren’t even due to a lack of energy. Last fall, prices were bid/set at the peak of pricing; a month later they fell. By January, wholesale prices were down 60 percent, without any new pipelines and after the retirement of four major power plants!

With just one year of jobs for union workers only — they bring their own trained workers — the project’s price tag, their exports raising U.S. gas prices, and no need for more energy in New Hampshire — we even export to Massachusetts — there’s no “public good.” No benefits to be found.

Even Kinder Morgan’s safety record is grim. Temple’s Fire Department is working with other departments in the region to address possible accidents or fires that could spread out of control through our woodlands — even to Sharon and Peterborough. After working for years to reduce harmful emissions, this massive highway for fracked gas is a punch in the gut.

Residents of Temple, New Ipswich, and towns downwind of the SCAT land, come to Temple’s elementary school on Thursday at 7 p.m., for a video on compressor stations, a Q&A with a civil engineer who built them for 25 years and more pipeline news. For more information, see www.nhpipelineawareness.org.

Bev Edwards lives in Temple. She chairs Temple’s Energy Committee.


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