Monday, January 13, 2014

The Landowners Who Are Refusing the Bluegrass Pipeline's Blood Money

 From the Kentucky Standard, Nelson County landowners explain why they will not sell easements to the Bluegrass Pipeline for any amount of money:

Why many Nelson Countians are telling pipeline agents they don’t have a price

The proposed Bluegrass Pipeline is damaging our community even though construction hasn’t even begun. That’s because neighbors don’t want to tell neighbors what to do with their land, but no one wants a hazardous liquids pipeline in his or her neighborhood.

Many hard-working landowners have decided that a one-time payment — no matter how large — is not worth damaging relationships with neighbors, devaluing land in the area, or putting their community, families and future generations at risk. Collectively, landowners in the state can join the ranks of those saying no to protect our land, farms, water and Bluegrass name.

The pipeline would carry natural gas liquids (NGLs), a hazardous liquid that’s exported or used in the petrochemical industry, not natural gas to be used by Kentuckians. It would be the first project of a joint venture between Boardwalk Pipeline Partners and Williams Co. The Nelson County section would be 24 inches in diameter, buried 18 inches to 4 feet, and under 1,480 pounds of pressure. Neither company has an NGL pipeline this large and under this much pressure. Each day, it would carry about $16 million worth of liquids, or 400,000 barrels, based on current NGL prices.

Kentucky’s hazardous liquids pipelines make up only 3 percent of total pipeline mileage in the state, yet contributed nearly 70 percent of injuries and property damage costs — $25 million — over the last 10 years. In 2004, a 4-inch NGL line exploded in Floyd County, injuring nine people and destroying five homes.

The proposed route would especially endanger Nelson County because about 80 percent of the path could run through karst areas. In karst terrain, leaks could have immediate consequences at locations “miles or tens of miles” away due to groundwater speed, according to one Kentucky hydrogeologist. Pipeline expert Richard Kuprewicz recently commented: “You’ve got to be nuts to put a large diameter HVL (highly volatile liquids) pipeline in a karst terrain.”

While many hope that new pipelines are safer, the first leg of the recently constructed Keystone Pipeline spilled 12 times in the first year of operation, including a 21,000-gallon hazardous liquids spill in North Dakota. If Bluegrass Pipeline is constructed, it will eventually leak and could contaminate the county’s watersheds with benzene, a cancer-causing agent.

The company has not been forthcoming about how large of a leak could go unnoticed by their remote system in Oklahoma. But based on industry standards for leak detection equipment and the high volume of liquids going through the pipeline, an engineer calculated that more than 8,000 gallons of NGLs could leak daily and go undetected. A Williams NGL leak went unnoticed for two weeks last year in Colorado and the groundwater is still poisoned with benzene.

While many landowners are already looking into frequent water testing on their farms should the pipeline be built, benzene testing is about $500 per test. Why should private landowners have to bear this cost?

Additionally, company reps recently commented that the pipeline could open up exploration of the New Albany shale, which underlies part of Nelson County, raising concerns that widespread fracking could come to the area and further put groundwater at risk.

If something sounds too good to be true — like the money agents are offering — that’s because it is. The number of individuals put at permanent risk by the proposed pipeline far outweighs the number of landowners who will receive one-time payments. How many neighbors will be closer to the pipeline than landowners who receive compensation?

We hope that Nelson County landowners will consider their families and community, and tell Bluegrass Pipeline that your land can’t be bought with their money. Saying NO is the most powerful weapon we have to keep our county safe.

Co-authors of this column include Don Bischoff of New Haven, Boone & Boone Farms of New Haven, Donna and Leo Essex of Loretto, Judy Jett of Bardstown, Peterson Farms of Loretto, Reding Homestead Family Farm of Howardstown, R & H Farms (Johnny Hite) of New Haven, Karen Robeck of New Haven, Wallace Lyvers of Bardstown, and TNT Farms of New Hope.

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