A family that lives across the street from the Hancock Compressor Station, which has been under construction on Hungry Hill Road in the Town of Hancock, was evacuated late in the evening on December 5th, and were warned that the crew working on constructing the station had encountered a problem.
Jessica Kenyon, who lives at the residence with her family, said that at about 9:30 a Millennium Pipeline project manager and one of the workers knocked on her door and said they had they were going to have to perform an “emergency blowout,” and that was going to be loud, 100 decibels or louder, and that was a concern.
She said also, “you don’t know what else could happen,” She said that if they wanted to leave the house before that happened they would have to leave be 10:00 p.m., and the event would last several hours. Kenyon has two children, aged four and thirteen and decided to leave. She said a representative called at about 4:30 a.m. and told the family they could return home.
Kenyon said it has “been a stressful year”. She said she has raised her concerns at town board meetings and meetings of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and has still has serious concerns about the safety of the project. She said, “They haven’t even built the building yet and they are already having this kind of trouble.”
Steve Sullivan, a spokesman for the Millennium Pipeline Company, confirmed Kenyon’s account. He said workers were installing a piece of equipment used for connecting the compressor station to the main pipeline and “they experienced a problem.”
He said they realized they had to reduce the pressure on the main line which involves releasing the gas from the line, and prior to that they notified the family that they had could evacuate or remain inside the house while the work was performed. Sullivan said on the morning of December 6 crews were working to restore the line to full operation.
The location has a history of tension between the pipeline company and residents. As a press release from Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy pointed out, “The Hancock Compressor Station is being built in the midst of a vacation community on land Millennium acquired after it destroyed the septic system, contaminated the water well, and caused structural damage to a house on the site during its pipeline expansion in 2007 and 2008.”
Press Release from Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy:
Fremont Center ~ At approximately 9:30 at night on Thursday December 5, a family on Hungry Hill Road in the Town of Hancock, Delaware County evacuated their home after a Millennium Pipeline Company employee knocked on their door and advised them to either leave the area within ten minutes or stay inside while the company vented natural gas into the atmosphere. The spokesperson said the process would be very noisy and last several hours. The family lives near the site where Millennium is constructing a new compressor station.
The Hancock Compressor Station is being built in the midst of a vacation community on land Millennium acquired after it destroyed the septic system, contaminated the water well, and caused structural damage to a house on the site during its pipeline expansion in 2007 and 2008.
Safety concerns, air contamination, noise, and impact on property values were among the objections sited by area residents who spoke out against the project before it was granted a license by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). At an August 2, 2012 hearing, residents pointed out that the compressor station is being built on a narrow, winding road that has only one means of egress in the winter. In emergencies, residents said, Millennium would be forced to rely on the Long Eddy Volunteer Fire Department in Sullivan County, which has only seven active members and lacks a foam truck like the one that had been used to put out a compressor station fire in the Broome County Town of Windsor earlier that summer.
Another resident pointed out that the compressor station would release huge volumes of contaminants into the atmosphere, including formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and cancer-causing volatile organic compounds. The methane released into the atmosphere by Millennium on Thursday night is a powerful greenhouse gas.
According to Millennium spokesperson Mike Armiak, the incident occurred after there was a problem with equipment being used to make a connection to the pipeline. Cora Edwards, Chair of the Sullivan County Public Safety Committee said, “We take these incidents very seriously given the compressor station's proximity to our county and to the Delaware River.”