The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

April 30, 2013

Protests planned for pipeline workshop

Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star

---- — Opponents of the Constitution Pipeline are planning to protest a meeting in Oneonta where safety experts will discuss ways to reduce hazards and potentially dangerous incidents that could result from construction near such natural gas transmission systems.

But the company behind the Constitution Pipeline project say the opponents are barking up the wrong tree because the workshop that will be presented at the Foothills Performing Arts Center has nothing to do with their specific project.

A flyer being distributed by local anti-fracking activists states that a “rally against the Constitution Pipeline” will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday outside Foothills, on Market Street.

“SAFETY AND PIPELINES AND FRACKING DO NOT GO TOGETHER!” the flyer states in large bold type.

Christopher Stockton, spokesman for the Constitution Pipeline, said his company has no involvement in the seminars that will be held in several upstate New York cities by Paradigm Liaison Services. He said such meetings are routine, as they fulfill a government requirement of the gas industry to reach out to excavators and emergency workers to brief them on the potential hazards of working near pipelines.

“Anything with ‘pipeline’ and ‘meeting’ in it can be a red flag for some people,” said Stockton, who, over the past year, attended a series of public forums held by the Federal Energy Regulator Commission on the Constitution Pipeline project.

Those forums drew hundreds of people, with many arguing that the pipeline will evolve into a magnet for hydrofracking in the region.

The Thursday meeting at Foothills is being organized by Paradigm Liaison Services LLC, based in Wichita, Kan. According to the company’s web site, the meeting in Oneonta is being sponsored by Columbia Gas Transmission and the Millennium Pipeline.

The Millennium Pipeline is aiming to construct a new compressor station on a 10-acre site at Hungry Hill in the Delaware County community of Hancock. The $37 million compression station is projected to go into service next November.

Adrian Kuzminski, the founder and moderator of the anti-drilling group Sustainable Otsego, said he believes it requires no leap in logic to view Thursday’s meeting on pipeline safety as a way to usher in the Constitution Pipeline.

“They wouldn’t be doing this in Oneonta if there wasn’t going to be a new pipeline in the vicinity,” said Kuzminski. “It doesn’t look like anybody is overreacting. This is a hot issue and people are going to turn out. The resistance to the Constitution Pipeline has been unprecedented for a pipeline.”

Paradigm states on its web site that its safety programs are sponsored by natural gas transmission pipeline operators, local natural gas distribution companies, and gathering pipeline operators nationwide.

“Emergency officials, public officials, excavators and contractors are invited to attend a free meal and one hour presentation on underground damage prevention and pipeline emergency response,” a notice regarding the seminars states.