Compressor station hearing draws crowd

Kristin Landon addresses repesentatives from Chief, from left, Steve Hamilton, Nick Bryan, Tom Muscenti and Jeff Malak, and from DEP, Christine Connolly, Mark Wejkszner, Raymond Kempa and Brian Halchak. STAFF PHOTO/ROBERT BAKER

BY ROBERT L. BAKER

The Department of Environmental Protection held a public hearing Wednesday night to addresss air quality standards of Chief’s Hirkey Compressor Station, proposed forWashingtonTownshipinWyomingCounty.

DEP spokesman Colleen Connolly said the night was not about what happened two weeks ago with Williams’ Lathrop Compressor Station just eight miles away from the proposed Hirkey site.

But only a handful of persons chose to ignore that incident in their remarks Wednesday.

The first 80 minutes gave those in attendance a chance to pose concerns to four officials from Chief and four from DEP.

And then following a 10-minute break, the last 90 minutes was an opportunity for providing testimony to DEP.

Kristin Landon of Tunkhannock said she resides onBaker-Hirkey Road, the road that fronts where the proposed station is to be built.

She asked, “Is it to be manned 24-7?”

Steve Hamilton, operations manager for Chief, admitted that the facility would have somebody onsite typically only eight hours a day, but it could be monitored remotely. And he added that there were 86 shutdown points, any one of which could kick in if something happened to the system.

“So, is that what happened up at Lathrop and do you have a plan if something similar happened here?” Vera Scoggins of Hop Bottom asked.

Chief’s Nick Bryan said a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure plan outlining an emergency response had been developed.

Landon noted that there were 60 residents – including 30 under 12- who lived within a mile radius of the proposed station and she was “extremely concerned about emissions.”

Matt Walker of the Clean Air Council estimated the facility would each year emit 35 tons of volatile organic compounds, 96.2 tons of nitrous oxides, 1.1 tons of formaldehyde, and 75.2 tons of greenhouse gas emissions in the form of methane.

No one out of the 85 or so in attendance could quite get a handle on how much exposure was too much, and given that other compressor staions are in the region, many asked if DEP took notice of the aggregate effect of several compressor stations.

DEP Air Quality Manager Mark Wejkszner, said each plant is permitted individually, but he also noted that DEP’sHarrisburgoffice was working on a long-term health study.

That no long-term aggregation analysis study had been done nor had their been a stringent complete review of the facility, including a greenhouse gas calculation or best available technology analysis was enough for Walker to call on DEP to halt permit approval.

Connolly said input would continue to be received on Chief’s Hirkey site until the close of business on May 11 to DEP Air Quality Program Manager,2 Public Square,Wilkes-Barre,PA18703.