Letter: Gas pipeline is an explosive issue


To the editor of THE EAGLE:

Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas pipeline has begun to approach landowners to survey property for a proposed high-pressure gas pipeline through Berkshire County. It is not in our best interest to have this pipeline. In the long run, it will cost us.

A high-pressure gas pipeline is an economic threat because it would be built for the benefit of outsiders (Kinder Morgan) who may intend to sell our natural gas to a more lucrative market in Europe. Worse yet, Kinder Morgan is slated to be reimbursed for the cost of the pipeline -- by us, the electric utility ratepayers, through an increased tariff on electricity.

The proposed high-pressure pipeline, 30-36 inches in diameter, will carry fracked gas that is loaded with a toxic cocktail of benzene, bimethyl sulfide, toluene, carbon disulfide and other poisons. The pipeline is designed to periodically vent or "blow off" some of those chemicals into the air along the route of the pipeline. (Due to a legislative loophole, gas companies are exempt from the Clean Air Act.) All those chemicals are toxic.

The data sheet online for benzene says it is a carcinogen, can be absorbed through the skin, damages the central nervous system, and may cause leukemia. The data sheet for toluene says it causes corneal damage and affects the central nervous system, leading to unconsciousness, convulsions and death; it also poses a risk to unborn children (presumably birth defects). The safety warning includes: "Do not breathe vapors." It would be hard not to breathe the vapors if you live downwind of the pipeline vents, or if you were hiking the Appalachian Trail near the pipeline, or hunting in the woods nearby.

And then there’s the problem of pipeline explosions. Wikipedia’s documented list of pipeline accidents shows that since 1999 there have been eight in the U.S. and seven in Canada, some resulting in loss of life. Public information shows that as pipelines age, they corrode and leak.

Surely we don’t want more pollution in the Berkshires. The burden of resistance is on us. More than a dozen Massachusetts towns have already passed resolutions to ban the Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas pipeline, and so should every town along its proposed route through Berkshire County.





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