LIVINGSTON, NJ — The discussion regarding a proposed Pilgrim oil pipeline that could directly affect the local environment as well as Livingston’s residential property value and safety if it is installed will continue at tonight’s Livingston Township Council meeting.
Currently, the council is deciding whether to join other affected towns that are talking about potentially requesting a legal retainer to represent them on legal environmental issues related to the proposal. Thus far, there has been some debate amongst the mayor and council as to the pros and cons of joining the “Municipal Pipeline Group” in the fight against the proposed pipeline, but all council members as well as the Livingston Environmental Commission are opposed to the Pilgrim Pipeline coming through Livingston for numerous health and safety issues.
“There is no one more concerned than myself, representing thousands of victims of environmental contamination over the past two decades,” said Livingston Mayor Al Anthony. “We have not yet joined the "pipeline group" because we are exercising due diligence on behalf of our residents and taxpayers to make sure the legal contract involved is terminable at any time, thus not entering us into a potential quagmire of significant legal bills.”
According to Anthony, the council has already passed a resolution against the pipeline and anticipate an Ordinance against it as well. The only decision that needs to be made at this point is whether to join the towns that are currently involved in a discussion with Environmental and Land Use Law Group, which recently shared the basis of its fees with the towns considering getting involved.
Deputy Mayor Shawn Klein echoed the rest of the council’s commitment to keeping the pipeline out of Livingston and said he would be interested in finding out how many towns would be considered enough to get legal representation as a group in order to split the price.
“It would be something that we have an option to be a part of,” said Klein, who clarified that the decision to be part of litigation would only occur once there is a litigation to be a part of. “My point is that $4700 is a small number: it’s not committing to anything else and it seems to me that we should be doing some of the small steps that we can take to try to prevent a pipeline from coming in here.”
“We all are champions of this cause,” said Anthony. “I thank [the council] for letting the lawyers deal with the legal aspects of the contract, while being patient on an issue they believe is important. I also thank the Sierra Club for coming out to our meeting and their kind words about the due diligence we have demonstrated in this process. We will get to a decision on the pipeline group once the appropriate safeguards are present for our community."
According to the Livingston Environmental Commission (LEC), which has shared its pipeline research with the council, this pipeline’s alignment could pose potential risks to a reservoir, a regional mall, two schools, a hospital, and impact to various floodplain, floodway and wetlands associated with Passaic River.
Specifically, the LEC’s research shows that the proposed Pilgrim pipelines are to traverse through the Township of Livingston starting at the northern end of the municipal boundary near the power transfer station in Roseland, cross the Passaic River and its floodplain and run parallel to Eisenhower Parkway through the western edge of Livingston.
It would also run through residential areas, extend along the Commonwealth Water Company reservoir, through Newark Academy as well as Kushner Academy before continuing southward toward Florham Park.
“The risks resulted from future pipe corrosion, leakage or explosion, in a highly populated urban center and environmentally sensitive segment of the Livingston could be detrimental to the health and safety of the town,” the LEC states. “Any spill or undetected leakage, no matter how big or small, could jeopardize the surrounding neighborhood—resulting in severe short-and long-term impact as oil penetrates deep into soils, waterways or aquifers.”
In New Jersey, the proposal cuts across three major drinking-water rivers throughout five NJ counties. The Pilgrim Pipeline had originally proposed to bury the pipes within the existing PSE&G easement, but PSE&G opposed Pilgrim’s access to use their right-of-way between Montvale and Woodbridge.
“The pipelines may post even greater risks to our residential community, businesses, and schools if they traverse through area of Livingston other than the PSE&G easement property,” the LEC states.
For more information, see the Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipeline website.