ELYRIA — The Lorain County commissioners invited representatives of the NEXUS Gas Transmission Project to their meeting Wednesday to address residents, but the 90-minute discussion did little to quiet the fears and objections of residents who want their elected leaders to support a plan to reroute the high-pressure natural gas pipeline.
Chief among all the concerns is safety, the residents said.
An estimated 4,600 properties are within 1,500 feet of the proposed NEXUS pipeline route, of which about 20.83 miles would run through Lorain County.
“The only way it’s safe is to keep it far from people,” said Michael Wrights, of Oberlin, who said he is looking to build in Oberlin but won’t until he knows exactly where the pipeline will be. “I’m in favor of the right plan that keeps it far from populated areas. We are setting ourselves up for disaster and destruction, and I don’t want that.”
The NEXUS Gas Transmission Project involves a 36- to 42-inch in diameter pipeline that would cross 11 counties and transport natural gas to the Dawn Energy hub in Ontario, Canada. It is one of several large-scale pipelines, including the ET Rover, which is being proposed to be routed through Ohio by 2020.
It will be made from high-grade steel that project managers said is the least susceptible to accidental ruptures. Bob Travers, from Spectra Energy, one of two energy companies on the project, said the steel to be acquired for the project would not be the kind used in typical construction projects. A backhoe at full force will be barely able to scratch it.
“But I’m sure there is not a lot of distance between a minor scratch and an accident,” said Commissioner Matt Lundy.
Lundy said safety is the prime concern of the commissioners, and if NEXUS wants to garner the board’s support, it must address how it plans to keep Lorain County residents out of harm’s way. Commissioner Ted Kalo said his support will hinge on the sourcing of that steel, which provides employment for so many in the county.
“We want to get our people back to work,” he said. “If you are looking for support from the board, it’s best you identify that sourcing.”
Michael R. Bertolone, with Operating Engineers Local 18, said the union would be supporting the project because it means jobs.
“We have 6,000 members working on gas and oil lines in Ohio,” he said. “The NEXUS pipeline will help grow that number.”
Members of the Coalition to Reroute NEXUS were also at the meeting to reiterate their request to commissioners to consider a reroute resolution that could be presented to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
CORN’s proposed route cuts the affected properties down by 70 percent.
“This is a project of choice, not need. They are fueled by Wall Street speculations,” said John Pais of Huron. Pais also owns property in North Ridgeville.
Deborah Rios, NEXUS project director, said the proposed route will be submitted to FERC by November. But before that, FERC will host scoping meetings in late April or early May to hear from stakeholders.
“This will be another avenue for the public to come out and state their concerns directly to FERC,” she said. “The comments will be a part of the official record and given consideration as FERC evaluates the application.”
In addition, the pipeline will also need approvals from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Ohio EPA, Department of Natural Resources and Ohio State Historic Preservation Office.