LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Livingston mayor and council have agreed to join in the resistance to a proposed project to build a second 27,500-horsepower compressor station within a wetlands area adjacent to the Passaic River in Roseland by requesting that a public hearing be held prior to any decision on the application.
The existing pipeline runs through Livingston (along Eisenhower Parkway) and a number of other Essex County communities. The governing body in Roseland recently passed a resolution requesting that Williams Gas Pipeline Transco and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) hold a public hearing, and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo wrote a letter to the NJDEP encouraging it to reject the company’s application.
“I do not understand why a public hearing about a project of this magnitude—one that directly impacts our environment, safety and quality of life—has not been scheduled,” said DiVincenzo. “It keeps the public informed, allows ideas to be shared and concerns to be addressed. The fact that this important step is being bypassed creates suspicion and exacerbates the mistrust felt by the community.”
Williams Transco, which operates natural gas pipelines throughout the country, has not requested a public hearing on its Freshwater Wetlands Permit application to expand its Roseland facility, which is located at 563 Eagle Rock Avenue, adjacent to the Essex County Environmental Center building.
In his letter to the NJDEP, DiVincenzo said that there is already a great volume of compressed gas traveling through the Borough or Roseland and surrounding communities, and that doubling the capacity of the compressor station “will increase by twofold the inherent dangers of having a pipeline passing through a densely populated area.”
“In addition, the existing compressor station, as well as the new one, is on wetlands,” he said. “This encroachment poses great risks to the local ecosystem and environment.”
Considering the compressor station’s location in relation to a nearby PSE&G switching station and high-tension electric lines as well as its proximity to the Passaic River, DiVincenzo also said in his letter that safety in the area is a major concern, and that “creating more development on wetlands is ill-advised.”
He noted that when the first compressor station was constructed in 2013, a large amount of gas was released without notice and caused great mistrust and fear within the community. The gas release caused an area panic, evacuation of a neighboring elementary school and risk of an explosion that could have had disastrous results.
Members of the Livingston Environmental Commission (LEC) agreed that this project would raise a significant risk to the ecosystem, environment and water resources located within the proposed area.
“At the present time, only about 10 percent of the existing facility is being used,” said Walter LeVine, LEC chairman, wrote in a letter to the council. “No justification for the increased capacity has been presented. Williams Transco has presented similar applications in New Jersey and all are being resisted by the communities and counties involved.”
The LEC urged the council to write to the NJDEP and state legislators requesting a public hearing, and to also write to the Federal Energy Regulations Commission voicing these concerns. Since the pipeline also runs through West Caldwell, North Caldwell and Cedar Grove, the LEC also suggested that the Livingston council reach out to the governing bodies of these communities to seek their cooperation in this matter.
The Livingston Township Council has drafted a resolution requesting a public hearing and is scheduled to adopt it at Monday's public council meeting at 8 p.m.