Plan for pipeline reversal ‘very dangerous’

Published 1:36 am Saturday, November 4, 2017


Guest columnist

In the 1940s when we had sufficient gasoline, our family would take long drives and sometimes make round trips to Lexington from our home in Ashland.

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Often, when we were driving in eastern Kentucky, my father would say, “There goes Uncle Hack’s pipeline!” Daddy would point to a wide swath in the woods or across a field. Since my uncle was head of the real estate division of Columbia Gas, he negotiated many easements with property owners in Kentucky and West Virginia. So the pipelines became identified as his as far as we were concerned.

These many years later, pipelines are back in my life.

Tennessee Gas/Kinder Morgan pipeline 100-1 and three other pipelines enter Boyle County high above Herrington Lake, dropping down on Clifton Road and going underground. From there, 100-1 goes cross country to a farm off Goggin Road, thence to the Gose Pike Convenience Center and up the hill parallel to Baughman Avenue to Hogsett Elementary School. It goes under Hustonville Road, past Inter-County Energy and on to the senior center. Next, the pipeline can be seen just off the 127/150 bypass near the railroad crossing.

When 100-1 was installed in the 1940s, there was little development in this area. Property owners were told that the gas was needed for the war effort. People wanted to help; sometimes there were easements and sometimes not. After the war, there was a need for housing and schools and churches, so buildings were erected on top of the pipeline with no serious consideration.

And there might be no serious consideration now if the pipelines were left alone.

Tennessee Gas/Kinder Morgan requested permission to abandon 100-1, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has granted that permission.

The next step in Tennessee Gas/Kinder Morgan’s plan is to reverse the flow in the pipeline and change the product transmitted from natural gas to natural gas liquids. Pipeline 100-1 has carried natural gas from the gulf to the northeast; now the proposal is to send natural gas liquids from the northeast to the gulf. Natural gas liquids are the waste products of fracking. There is a need to dispose of them just as there is a need to dispose of coal ash from electric power plants. Fracking allows a faster production of natural gas and natural gas companies are certainly in favor of that. Natural gas companies are proposing new pipelines in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina to carry the faster-produced natural gas.

The reversal of the flow and the change in the product carried are very dangerous proposals. The 1940s pipeline was not designed for heavier flow. In order to cross into Boyle County on Clifton Road, the pipeline would have to go under Herrington Lake. The natural gas liquids are too heavy to be carried in an elevated pipe.

So pipelines are back in my life in a not-very-pleasant way. This was brought home about three years ago during a public meeting at Inter-County Energy. From somewhere in the audience a voice called out “Where is this pipeline?” A person stood up, pointed out the window, and said “Right out there!”

And there it was indeed, just across the parking lot: a yellow and white pipeline marker, 100-1.

Watch for these markers as you move around south Danville. Actually, there are four pipelines crossing Boyle County. At the present time, 100-1 is of critical importance.

Please join me and my friends and neighbors of Citizens Opposed to Pipeline Conversion (COPC). Make your opposition known to state, local and federal officials. Keep Boyle County safe and free from NGLs.

Anne V. Ferguson lives in Danville.