For Immediate Release – November 3, 2016
Susan Van Dolsen 914-525-8886
Suzannah Glidden 914-485-1052
FERC HASTILY OKAYS SPECTRA’S NEW PLAN FOR GAS IN AGING PIPELINES UNDER INDIAN POINT NUCLEAR PLANT WITHOUT REQUIRED SAFETY ANALYSIS
President Obama Must Immediately Direct
FERC to Halt Spectra AIM Pipeline to Prevent Fukushima on the Hudson
Another Major FERC Conflict of Interest Unfolds
Westchester County, NY – On October 28, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) hastily granted approval for Spectra Energy to deviate from its original plan and run large quantities of fracked gas at intense pressure through old pipelines that are under the Indian Point nuclear power (IPEC) facility. The not yet completed AIM pipeline project has unresolved problems and as a result now has a different operational plan. A green light, however, was given to Spectra without conducting the required risk assessment and analysis of safety procedures for these significant operational modifications.
Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE), an all-volunteer, grassroots group representing residents and communities across the tri-state region, as well as elected officials at all levels, have expressed strong opposition to Spectra’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) project. The group vociferously opposes this approval and calls for all elected officials to implore President Obama to immediately intervene and direct FERC to halt construction and operation of the Spectra AIM project due to urgent safety and national security risks.
Spectra Energy has encountered multiple problems over the past several months while attempting to pull its massive 42-inch diameter pipeline through a hole it drilled under the Hudson River, using the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) technique. FERC’s original approval of the AIM project in March 2015 did not include a contingency plan should the HDD method fail and, therefore, should not have given Spectra the green light to put the AIM in-service using the old pipelines with the HDD issue still unresolved and potentially requiring a new environmental review.
The recent approval granted to Spectra puts the tri-state region at risk, according to nuclear and pipeline safety experts who indicate that a rupture in a gas pipeline at Indian Point could cause a meltdown and catastrophic radioactive releases. Use of the 50+ year old gas pipelines that will tie into the new 42-inch diameter AIM pipeline, on both the Rockland and Westchester sides of the Hudson River in Spectra’s new plan, were not evaluated for the AIM project. The new 42-inch diameter AIM pipeline will operate at substantially higher pressure than the maximum allowable operating pressure of the old pipelines potentially escalating the serious risks associated with this project. The new operational plan creates a new configuration that must be analyzed for safety, as required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulation 10 CFR 50.29.
A letter sent to the NRC on October 25, 2016 states:
“The Entergy 10 CFR 50.59 transmittal letter to the NRC indicates that ‘Entergy is required to assess new safety impacts on IPEC and provide that analysis to the NRC.’ However, the analysis provided is only for the NEW 42” natural gas loop pipeline south of IPEC. The need to analyze the existing lines is relegated to a 2008 analysis, well before the AIM system changes were determined and officially presented. The existing 50+ year old 30-inch line is within 400 feet of safety-related structures, systems and components (SSC). These SSC elements are within the potential impact radius of the 30-inch line, which has a maximum allowable operating pressure of 750 PSIG. This 30-inch line will now be interconnected on either side of IPEC to the higher pressure 42-inch, MAOP 850 PSIG gas line, just outside the IPEC security area. A single malfunction of a valve could over pressurize the existing lines. The existing 50+ year old 26-inch line, which also runs approximately 400 feet from the control room and other SSC, was presented as being kept in place as a backup. That 26-inch line has a MAOP of 674 PSIG, and will also be connected directly to the 42-inch line with a MAOP of 850 PSIG.”
Suzannah Glidden of SAPE said, “This is a classic bait and switch. Spectra applied for approval of a new 42-inch diameter pipeline and now that they cannot get the huge pipe under the Hudson River, they sought and were approved to use a different route and pipeline infrastructure that were not evaluated for this project. A corporation’s profits must not take precedence over public safety.”
FERC has not responded to questions concerning consultation with federal and state agencies, such as the Army Corps of Engineers, New York State Department of State or New York State Department of Environmental Conservation when a variance was granted by FERC for the HDD in late August. This occurred right after FERC issued a ‘serious violation’ to Spectra for its failure to receive authorization for its destruction of a wetland and trees when a drill stem was lost during the construction process.
Furthermore, a series of investigative reports demonstrates that the entire FERC review process was compromised by numerous conflicts of interest, including the latest report this week revealing that the Spectra AIM Project Manager, who signed off on the project, is married to a consultant for Spectra gas pipeline projects.
We implore President Obama to direct FERC to halt construction immediately due to imminent safety and national security threats. Susan Van Dolsen, a co-founder of SAPE said, “FERC’s approval is a flagrant case of a federal commission favoring industry while dismissing the risks to the 20 million people within the 50-mile impact radius of Indian Point.”