PENDLETON — Two different presentations regarding National Fuel's planned Killian Road compressor station drew large crowds of residents Tuesday night and Wednesday in Pendleton.
Tuesday's presentation was organized by the Pendleton Action Team and other concerned residents to talk about the possible health effects of living near a compressor station. Wednesday was a community forum hosted by National Fuel with the intention of easing some of residents' concerns.
National Fuel's was the first of two planned forums where the company wanted to answer questions from the public. About 20 to 25 representatives from the fuel company were on hand at Wendelville Fire Hall from 1 to 9 p.m. to talk on a one-on-one basis with residents.
The forum also included a presentation on the proposed 22,000-horsepower compressor station, part of National Fuel's 2016 Northern Access Project.
Dr. Sheila Buskin-Bedient, who is affiliated with the Institute for Health and the Environment at SUNY Albany, spoke at Pendleton United Methodist Church Tuesday night on the impact of natural gas compressor station byproducts on health.
Before starting her presentation, Buskin-Bedient said that she had no conflicts of interest with the project and received no funding for the educational event.
The fuel company, headquartered in Williamsville, acquired the option to buy 20 acres of land on Killian Road from the Tonawanda Sportsmen's Club, a light industrial-zoned area, in August. The fuel company had originally sought to build the compressor along the existing XM10 Empire Pipeline near Beach Ridge Road. After a FERC scoping meeting in May, when dozens of residents spoke out against the proposed location, National Fuel selected a different site, Ron Kraemer, vice president of National Fuel and president of Empire Pipeline said.
“We're listening to what the public has to say,” Kraemer said.
The project must receive a certificate from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to proceed. Another FERC scoping meeting will be held in upcoming months to ask for residents' opinions on the new location.
Kraemer answered commonly-asked questions and concerns about the project in the presentation, including concerns about noise, vibrations, safety and property values issues.
Although the original site plan called for replacing the 16-inch pipeline with a 24-inch pipeline near the Frontier Chemical site, the new location will not require replacing the lines near the hazardous site, Kraemer said.
He assured the crowd that the noise from the station will be about 15 decibels lower than the federal limit of 55, quieter than an average conversation.
“There are silencers on all the vents, so when the compressor has 'blow downs,' it will be as quiet as during operation,” Kraemer said.
The station will also meet federal regulations which require no perceptible increases in vibration during operation, he said.
“FERC will obligate us to this commitment,” Kraemer said. “The unit will shut itself down if there is any vibration.”
National Fuel currently operates 38 compressor stations throughout Western New York. The stations are monitored 24/7 by the local National Fuel Gas Dispatch Center, and there is a control panel located at the site in case the center loses signal.
Many of the residents at Wednesday's forum expressed concerns about their property values going down, particularly residents who live near Killian Road.
Kraemer said that National Fuel has commissioned a third-party study on the potential impact of the station on local property values, and that the final draft will be finished and ready for public viewing in about a week.
Buskin-Bedient expressed concerns about gasses and chemicals escaping from the compressor station and being released into the air.
“Recent studies have shown that compressor stations and other natural gas infrastructure components emit more toxic substances than fracking well sites,” Buskin-Bedient said.
The full effects of toxic exposures on health aren't known yet, Buskin-Bedient said, as studies are still being done in areas where natural gas infrastructures exist.
For comparison, Buskin-Bedient showed the audience data about a compressor station in Garfield County, Colo., owned by the Barrett-Bailey Corp. Chemicals identified in emissions from the compressor station include methane, methanol, octane, propane, sulfur hexaflouride, toluene and xylene.
“Methanol is highly toxic and can cause blindness by optic nerve destruction; toulene has effects on the reproductive system, and is neurotoxic and an endocrine disruptor; and xylene is a neurotoxic endocrine disruptor,” Buskin-Bedient said.
Children, the elderly, and embryos are most susceptible to toxic substances in the air and water, Buskin-Bedient said.
“Children are particularly vulnerable because they are lower to the ground and breathe more rapidly, both at rest and at play,” she said.
Kraemer said he wasn't aware of what information was presented Tuesday night, but that National Fuel is bound by federal air quality laws.
“We're not health scientists but our job is to design the best, lowest emission station that will do what we need it to do,” Kraemer said. “Air permits are designed to protect public health.”