The non-profit Center for Sustainable Rural Communities, in partnership with Otsego 2000, has submitted formal comments to the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), NY State Department of Health, and Governor Cuomo highlighting the potential public safety risks created by siting natural gas pipelines in areas subject to severe flooding.
Citing an advisory issued by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in which the agency underscores how flooding, river scour and river channel migration can result in the catastrophic failure of pipelines, the two organizations are urging the DEC to deny water quality and crossing permits for new gas pipelines proposed for areas that have experienced historic flooding events.
Robert Nied, Acting Director of the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities called the siting of the proposed Constitution and Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipelines in areas devastated by flooding “irresponsible and shortsighted.” Mr. Nied said that it was incumbent on all agencies involved to “act with due diligence and protect the rural residents of Upstate NY from what could be a double disaster of flooding and pipeline failure.”
If approved, the Constitution Pipeline would cut through hills, valleys, forests, and wetlands, intersecting over 270 waterways along a 124 miles corridor. As proposed, nearly all of those waters would be crossed by burying the pipeline in shallow trenches. “This creates precisely the problem that the federal PHMSA advisory warned of where floodwaters can expose a pipeline or wash away its supporting soil and cause a rupture” said Nicole Dillingham, President of Otsego 2000. “These are dangers with potentially catastrophic results that DEC must not ignore.”
The joint letter also includes a link to video footage by Dan Brignoli of severe damage caused by torrential flooding where the Constitution Pipeline is now proposed. Brignoli, whose property is in the proposed route, said, "Constitution wants to locate this pipeline in the very same place where roads have been repeatedly washed away. If the DEC approves this project, it will be a disaster."