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Essex County governing body seeks answers from one of America’s largest energy infrastructure providers.

Freeholder Brendan Gill Joins Opposition to Gas Compressor

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This photo went viral after people protested the Roseland gas pipe project.
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On Wednesday, February 19th, the Essex County Freeholder Board voted unanimously to approve a resolution sponsored by fifth district freeholder Brendan Gill, voicing their collective support to “demand answers and information” regarding a natural gas pipeline expansion project that will potentially affect 1 in 3 Essex County municipalities.

As part of a statewide expansion, the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company plans to increase the pressure of the Roseland compressor station to 30,000 horsepower, a move that will “more than double” current force of the pipeline that runs through Belleville, Bloomfield, Cedar Grove, Nutley, North Caldwell, Roseland, and West Caldwell. Speaking in support of the resolution Freeholder Gill said, “There’s no doubt in my mind that at the very least, we need answers before such a huge project takes root in the community.”

The text of the resolution cites one concern of local firefighters, who say that in the event of a catastrophe, they will not have the ability to extinguish a gas compressor or pipeline fire. “From the perspective of most families, when we see the aftermath of explosions on the news and it’s in a neighborhood that looks like ours, that’s frightening. So I think it’s reasonable for residents to voice their concerns, and to demand answers and safety reassurances from the company.”

The Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co. LLC (Transco) was fined on at least two separate occasions for what has been described as “lax management” of compressor stations in New York, Louisiana, and Texas. Bloomfield Councilman Nick Joanow, who has supported the Transco answer-seeking coalition, called the proposed uprate to the compression station “a clear and present danger” to Bloomfield Township and Essex County at large. According to Joanow, this danger cannot be understated, especially given the explosions and fires at four Transco compressor stations in New Jersey over the past two years, most recently in Branchburg (Somerset County), where 13 construction workers were injured and two were hospitalized. “I would like to extend a special thanks to Freeholder Gill for being responsive to the needs of his constituents” Joanow added.We are truly fortunate to have an elected official in Brendan, who has a great level of sincerity and willingness to serve the needs of our residents.”

Last year a Roseland elementary school was evacuated due to fear of a natural gas leak from the compressor station. Jane Califf, a member of Roseland Against the Compressor Station and the Green Party of Essex and Passaic Counties, commented: “We are extremely gratified that the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders passed this important resolution unanimously. It will help to address serious health and safety issues of people living next to the Williams/Transco compressor station in Roseland and those living along the pipeline route. We hope that towns in Essex County and beyond will join with Bloomfield, Nutley, and now the Essex County Freeholders to pass similar resolutions.”

According to Jane Califf, the various communities that stand to be affected by the expansion have not been shown the results of the Williams/Transco pipeline test, to which Freeholder Gill commented, “Anything I can do to advocate for residents in my district – which includes a majority of the towns in my district – I will. Passing this resolution is one of them, and I’m proud to do it.”

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