Category Archives: Lake Erie Watershed

13ABC Reports on the Nexus Pipeline and Compressor Station in Waterville OH

Thank you to Toledo 13abc – great story!   There are many questions and local concerns about the Nexus pipeline and compressor station.  In particular, long term effects from toxic emissions would be very damaging for the Waterville and Whitehouse area. Too many families, businesses and schools are impacted by the current location. At 26,000 horsepower, this would be one of the largest compressor stations in the state.

13ABC video about the proposed Nexus pipeline compressor station in Waterville

Portions of the report:

You may have heard of the Nexus pipeline. It will transport natural gas. But the I-Team found another part of the project some neighbors say could destroy a thriving area….  something called a compressor station….  As proposed, it’s located about half a mile from land owned by Stacy Owen….

“I have 2 kids with a third on the way. I’m thinking family. How’s this going to happen? How are my kids going to be affected, that kind of thing,” said Owen.  Owen’s spearheaded a group fighting this compression station and making sure people know what it would mean to the area.

“I either have to do something or I’m just going to have to deal with it I guess and I decided I have to do something,” said Owen…

“You feel like it’s David and Goliath. We’ve got stones and sling shots and they have legal teams and a lot of money,” said Waterville resident Deb Swingholm.

“It’s frustrating, embarrassing, infuriating that you ask questions and no one will give you an answer. And there’s no one that you can go to to make them, the operators, give you an answer,” said Rick Kazmierczak, Swancreek Township trustee.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, has the final say. That commission is currently taking public input, preparing an environmental impact survey. Opponents think the compressor station’s impact will be huge.

If there’s an accident, who would be impacted? Some say far more than regulations would have you believe. The I-Team learned that the US Department of Transportation calculates a potential impact radius.

When you use the DOT formula, the impact radius around this pipeline and compression station is 943 feet. But in Defiance late year, when a pipeline ruptured authorities evacuated a ¾ mile radius. That’s about 4 times the radius for a pipeline smaller than would be coming through this compression station.

So what’s in the radius around this one? Within a 3 mile radius you find homes, farms, Waterville and about 4000 Anthony Wayne students and staff members.

“We’re concerned that the public knows about what’s actually coming out of there. We’re concerned for the students and staff in our school buildings,” said Jim Fritz, Anthony Wayne Schools Superintendent.

Superintendent Fritz worries about accidents and daily emissions.  “There’s still a lot of unknown. I think that’s where the citizens of our area need to ask questions,” said Fritz.

The area has certainly seen change. For example the construction of new US 24. Opponents of this station say they understand growth, they understand the idea of energy independence but they say it doesn’t make any sense to put this station in a part of Lucas County that for the last 10 years has actually been growing….

“We can do it smarter and we can affect less people. The bottom line is, no matter where we put it someone will be affected,” added Kazmierczak.

Which gets the opponents to an obvious questions. If it doesn’t go in their backyard, wouldn’t it just go in someone else’s backyard? If the federal regulators don’t like the Waterville location, the answer is yes.

“But at least I could look at individual straight in the face and say instead of affecting 100 people now we’re only affecting two and I’m sorry it has to be you but the greater good is served by moving it to a more rural type area,” said Kazmierczak. “It’s a terrible situation to be in when you have to choose between two poorer options but at least the common sense option is to get it out of a highly developed area and move it to a less developed area.”

The opponents are also asking about the Lake Erie algae bloom. Digging the pipeline will mean crews will have to dewater where the water table is high. So they’ll be taking water out of the ground to put the pipeline in. But when the water goes out will it go out over farm fields, what nutrients will be running off into stream, rivers and eventually into Lake Erie? How will that affect the algae bloom? No one knows, another reason opponents don’t want the pipeline in the first place.

Right now the Ohio EPA is taking public comment to see if they will hold a public hearing on the compression station. That period ends in a few days. So if you’d like to weigh in, you need to now.  The federal government will put out that draft environmental study in the next few months. That’s when the public can weigh in further before a final decision is made.

To contact the Ohio EPA about a compressor station public hearing:
Call the Ohio EPA Public Interest Center at (614) 644-2160

Pipeline Hazards and Damage

Numerous pipeline proposals are aiming at northwest Ohio currently.  In particular we are focused on Nexus, ET Rover, and Kinder-Morgan Utopia.  Each one of these pipelines represents a hefty burden for our communities.  Some of our concerns:

Environmental

  • Destruction of flora and fauna of the Oak Openings Region – hundreds of acres of land would be clear cut and dug up.  Repair is impossible in some of these sensitive  habitats.
  • Wetlands may be damaged
  • Drainage issues and flooding problems if even small changes occur to creeks, ditches and field tiles.   The water table is high.  After all, we’re in the Great Black Swamp.
  • De-watering during construction will impact aquifers and shallow wells (less than 25 feet) may go dry. Contamination of the aquifer is a concern.
  • De-watering events may also aggravate algal blooms in Lake Erie.  Questions about effects to the watershed have not been addressed.

Safety

  • Proximity of pipe and compressor station to population centers, parks, elder-care facilities, water treatment plants, schools, homes and subdivisions.
  • Risk of ruptures and explosion from weld failures, third-party damage, or corrosion.
  • Evacuation plans would be needed in case of accidents, ruptures or explosions.
  • Local fire services (many volunteer) would be overwhelmed; lack ability to contain multiple fires in event of a blast.

Health

  • Toxic emissions from compressor stations such as benzene, formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds – VOC’s.  Health complaints reported near compressor stations include nosebleeds, headaches, asthma and other respiratory problems.
  • Reported stress and sleeplessness from noise, smells and low frequency vibration.

Property Value Loss

  • Property values would be lowered depending on proximity to the pipeline or compressor station. One independent study shows a 15-25% reduction is common.
  • Marketability of homes and land would be impacted.