VLC wetlands impact

Testimony from NYDEC hearings, August 3, 2017

  • Our community has long been in opposition to Millennium’s related project, the Eastern Standard Upgrade. Tonight I will address the significant water impacts for the Valley Lateral Connect preferred route, detailed in section 2 of the EA.
  • This plan  entails 19 waterbody crossings and 2 waterbodies of special concern. That is a total of 23 wetlands that would intersect with a fracked gas pipeline.
  • These recharging aquifers provide the valuable water for Orange County’s agricultural operations — our food.
  • These aquifers are designated by NYS as essential sources of drinking water for major municipal systems — our water.
  • The VLC pipeline is also within the Rutgers and Masonic Creek areas. Both are within the larger Wallkill River watershed, which is a recharge zone for New Jersey’s aquifers system as well.
  • With so much water to cross, has Millennium anticipated the complexity of scope at hand?

Earlier this June, Millennium filed an amendment to their original application at FERC. This revision reveals a dramatic underestimation of the work to be done in these wetland crossings.

• In it, they increased the estimated costs an astounding 45% – from approx $39 million to over $57 million.

• In explaining their revisions, they state: The revised estimate assumes trenchless installation of approximately 17,600 feet, or 42.7 percent, of the right-of-way.

While “HDD” trenchless installation may be preferred to other methods, it is anything but foolproof or safe. Two high-profile pipeline failures this year underscore the risk of HDD:

• This past April. 500,000 square feet of wetlands were dramatically impacted by a full HDD failure along the Rover Pipeline in Stark County, Ohio.

• Then, this June, drilling was suspended on the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, due to HDD related spills in wetlands described as “of exceptional value”

The VLC project presents many red flags:

– First, the sheer number and density of waterbody crossings that must be made is alarming. 23 waterbodies means 23 potential disasters.

  • Second, Millennium’s techniques and cost estimates keep changing. What’s the final plan, and is it safe?
  • Third, Millennium’s planned use of HDD methods have already proven to fail in similar terrain. Why would it be different here?
  • We implore NYSDEC to deny the 401 permits. The VLC is too a risky venture in this high-value watershed area.