WINDSOR — Opponents of Kinder Morgan's proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. pipeline project will host a presentation Sunday by two physicians on what they see as the health effects of compressor stations like the one proposed to be built in the town.
Dr. Curtis Nordgaard, a senior resident at Boston Children's Hospital with an interest in environmental health, and Dr. Sheila Bushkin-Bedient of the Institute of Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, will speak at the event, which will begin at 3 p.m. in Windsor Town Hall on Route 9.
Among the topics to be explored is the possibility of air pollution originating at compressor stations, the type of pollutants that could be released, and findings on health impacts that may affect residents living within 10 miles of the facility.
Dr. Bushkin-Bedient, a 17-year member of the New York State Medical Society, is a specialist in chronic diseases, aging and environmental health. Her involvement in public health and preventive medicine follows many years in general, plastic and reconstructive surgery as well as emergency medicine. She is a member of the New York Alliance Against Chronic Diseases.
Her published research and lectures on environmental issues include public health risks from hydraulic fracturing (the drilling process for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania), as well as exposure to chemical contaminants and ionizing radiation in early childhood associated with cancer later in life.
"As the ever-increasing expansion of the natural gas transportation segment progresses, the regions through which these pipelines travel will inevitably be exposed to greater contamination of air and water resources," she stated via e-mail. "The unintentional and intentional release of a vast mixture of chemicals and gases, through emissions, blowdowns and leaks will undeniably lead to increasing environmental pollution."
"This will adversely impact the health of people," she said. "Of particular concern are the dangers to the development of especially vulnerable populations, such as embryos, fetuses, children and the elderly."
Dr. Nordgaard, who completed research degrees in psychology and biology prior to medical school, has a particular interest in climate change and asthma as they may affect the health of children.
The pipeline project has aroused intense concern and much opposition in Windsor because of the proposed 41,000-horsepower compressor station.
The industrial facility would increase the pressure of the natural gas, providing energy to propel the supply along the pipeline route that includes 4.5 miles within the hilltown of 866 residents, more than half of them over 60. A portion of the route cuts through Notchview Reservation, a year-round recreation area.
The company maintains that benzenes and other hazardous air pollutants that may be present during the production of natural gas have been removed before entering the Tennessee Gas pipeline system at its starting point. Air and noise emissions from compressor stations are tightly regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Kinder Morgan states on its website.
Even more stringent controls may be imposed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and similar agencies in New York, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, as well as by local municipalities, the company added.
Kinder Morgan plans to file its formal application seeking approval from federal regulators next week. The 6,000-page document is to be delivered to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Nov. 20. FERC is expected to rule on it within a year; the company hopes to construct the pipeline from Wright, N.Y., to Dracut in 2017 and 2018, in time to go into service by November 2018.
Kinder Morgan held an open house in Windsor last month that included 25 company representatives to answer questions about the $3,3 billion, 412-mile pipeline project. Entering Berkshire County from Stephentown, N.Y., the current route passes through parts of Hancock, Cheshire, Lanesborough, Dalton, Hinsdale, Windsor and Peru as well as towns in Franklin and Hampshire counties and southern New Hampshire before terminating in Dracut, north of Lowell.
The compressor stations would be installed every 40 to 50 miles along the pipeline route, including Nassau, N.Y., Windsor, Northfield, Ipswich, N.H., and Dracut. Noise, lighting, visual impact and potential pollution are among the concerns cited by residents for the Windsor facility off Peru Road on 16 acres of privately-owned parcels.
Windsor residents and officials also are concerned about the truck traffic that would access the facility for construction and maintenance along Peru Road, a narrow gravel route subject to weather challenges in winter and spring. Company officials have explored potential upgrades for the road prior to construction, as well as repairs if there's damage.
Kinder Morgan project manager Bill Thomas has told residents that "if we mess up the road, we'll fix it."
Although the pipeline route is to be located next to an electrical utility-line corridor, it requires a 100-foot pathway during construction, cut back to 50 feet if and when the pipeline is completed. There are five homes within a half-mile buffer zone, and others just outside the perimeter. About 20 property owners would be affected by creation of the pipeline-construction corridor.
On the Web ...
Kinder Morgan's position on compressor stations is available at www.kindermorgan.com/content/docs/NED_Compressor_Station_FAQ.pdf.