Monday, July 1, 2013

Will water soon burn in Kentucky?

It is happening elsewhere, and if Kentuckians do not unite against the Bluegrass Pipeline, water may soon burn here as well.  The Williams Company is quietly constructing a pipeline that will carry dangerous fracking byproducts through about 18 Kentucky counties en route from Pennsylvania to Louisiana.  Few people know how seriously it will affect them because the company’s representatives are working privately with elected county officials across the state to discuss the project without citizens’ knowledge and input. 

Citizens are reporting:
·         Some elected county officials across the state are not responding to requests for public hearings, and they have little information to provide their tax-paying constituents about the pipeline. 
·         Some county officials and company reps have allegedly told landowners they would use eminent domain to seize their land despite the fact that it is not conclusive that the company qualifies for the right of eminent domain in Kentucky.
·         The lack of transparency and accountability to the public by local governments and the company almost certainly ensures that Kentuckians are not being told about their rights, the potential dangers of this pipeline, the environmental impact, and the questionable long-term economic benefit to the state.

The public needs to know:
·         The Bluegrass Pipeline is not a standard gas line for services to the public, nor is it for energy production.
·         It is a transport line that will carry toxic, explosive fracking by-products and chemicals.
·         Exposure, ingestion, and inhalation of these toxins can cause central nervous system (brain) damage, cardiovascular problems, asphyxiation, and death.  Some are carcinogenic.
·         Noisy, air-polluting pumping stations will likely be located every 10 – 20 miles across the line, running 24/7. 
·         The line will go through the Ohio and Kentucky rivers, primary water sources for the state.
·         It will go through the New Madrid Seismic Zone, the most active seismic area in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains.  Earth movement in the zone can cause leaks, ruptures, and possibly explosions along the Bluegrass Pipeline.
·         Since some of the pipeline is being repurposed using existing lines that may or may not be engineered to carry natural gas liquids, what independent oversight will occur to ensure public safety?

The Williams Company safety record is a concern:
·         Recent explosions in Pennsylvania, Alabama, Louisiana and West Virginia raise questions about their practices, according to
o       Reportedly, the West Virginia explosion came just days after the Williams Company “rejected safety recommendations from the US Army Corps of Engineers in connection with controversial new natural gas pipeline of similar diameter proposed for New York City.”   
o       Pending lawsuits by injured employees at the Louisiana plant alleged the Company “failed to train and provide plaintiffs with safety, emergency and/or escape procedures” and that dozens were “trapped inside the plant after the explosion until a co-worker smashed through a locked gate in a company truck to allow them to escape…”

What will happen if and when there is a leak?
·         Catastrophic explosions are possible.
·         Alternately, the toxic byproducts may form a fog-like vapor that lies low to the ground.  Material on the Williams Company website advises that if this happens, people in the area should not start their cars but should leave the area and seek higher ground. 
o       This assumes, of course, that there is a higher ground to which they can escape and that they can do so without first being overcome by toxic fumes. 
o       Public safety literature states that any no rescue attempt should be attempted without respirators for EMS responders.
·         Some byproducts products are odorless and colorless in vapor form.
·         Leaked liquids and chemicals that remain underground may contaminate groundwater.
·         There has been no public discussion of how emergency responders will be trained on an ongoing basis, adequately equipped, and supported in their efforts to keep themselves and their communities safe. 
·         It is unknown whether the Williams Company is working with cities or government on measures that must be in place to purify water supplies for human consumption in the event of a disaster.

Will this pipeline create jobs and help Kentucky’s economy?
·         There has been no specific, publicized commitment by the company that any Kentucky or US jobs will be created.
·         The pipeline products will most likely be exported to foreign countries where they will be processed and used in manufacturing.
·         There has been no public disclosure of the economic benefit to the state beyond minimal ad valorem taxes on the value of the pipeline itself and not the products it carries.
·         It remains unclear if or how much Kentuckians would benefit from the estimated potential profit of up to $1.4 million per day the company may earn. 

It is time for Kentuckians to demand that state and county officials serve their constituents by holding public hearings on the Bluegrass Pipeline with balanced, validated information being presented to the public.  Further, the Commonwealth should ensure that an independent, comprehensive Environmental and Economic Impact study is conducted before the Bluegrass Pipeline is permitted to continue attempting to acquire easements.  Please contact your local government officials and state representatives and let them know that Kentuckians deserve transparency in the decision-making for this process.  Ask that a regulatory committee of impartial and qualified individuals be created to develop and present safety regulations for pipelines during the next legislative session to protect us and future generations.  Connect with other concerned citizens on Facebook through the Bluegrass Pipeline Blockade.