CCC’s Approval Of Natural Gas Line Irks Service Road Neighbors
By: Michael J. Rausch
To the disappointment of many of the residents in the audience, the Cape Cod Commission gave its near unanimous approval yesterday to install a high-pressure natural gas pipeline along Service Road in Sandwich.
“Are you going to come to my house when it blows up?” one audience member chided commissioners who voiced their support of the project ahead of the vote.
The meeting was held at the assembly of delegates’ chamber at the First District Courthouse in Barnstable yesterday, and approximately 20 residents spoke in opposition to the project, citing concerns over safety and noise.
The project call for installing 23,000 feet of gas line that will begin at the Spectra Energy Station across from the intersection of Route 130 and Service Road, and run along Service Road into the town of Barnstable. The gas line will be laid on the north side of Service Road, about 15 feet into the buffer between the road and the Mid-Cape Highway.
The proposed construction has angered some residents because trees and other natural growth that abut Service Road and serve as a noise buffer and visual barrier to the Mid-Cape Highway would have to be dug up. Residents also told the commission that they had deep concerns about the safety of a high-pressure natural gas pipe being located so close to their homes.
Some mentioned the natural gas explosion two weeks ago in Kansas City, Missouri, that leveled a restaurant and killed more than a dozen people.
Robert J. Doherty of Noel Henry Drive in East Sandwich testified that his own research showed there had been 102 oil and natural gas pipeline accidents nationwide over the past three years.
Lauren G. Nordahl of Robbin Road said that her concerns over safety stem from having a daughter who is confined to a wheelchair. Ms. Nordahl said that because there is only one way out of her neighborhood, she worries what would happen if the Service Road were closed because of a pipeline emergency.
Edward M. Wencis, project manager for National Grid told the commission that the company is required to follow state and federal safety guidelines when installing the pipeline. Mr. Wencis also said that each section of the pipe would be inspected at the factory and the installation site. Additionally, all installers would need to be properly licensed, he said.
Michael J. Koehler, a member of the Boston law firm Keegan Werlin LLP and outside counsel to National Grid, sought to allay any concerns residents had with regards to the removal of vegetation and the potential increase in noise the project might have on the area.
Mr. Koehler told the commissioners that independent testing showed that any increase in sound volume caused by the removal of trees “would simply not be discernible to the human ear.”
James A. Hanlon of Telegraph Hill Road was unconvinced by Mr. Koehler’s testimony. Mr. Hanlon said that every home along the Service Road is different as far as how much vegetation is in front, with some homes having more and others less. He said that National Grid used an average length of tree line to arrive at their figure that suggests there would be minimal sound impact from Route 6, “but not every home is the same.”
“I challenge anybody on this board to sit in my back yard after 10 to 15 feet of tree line’s been taken down, and tell me they don’t hear a difference,” Mr. Hanlon said.
After nearly an hour and a half of testimony, the commission voted and there was just one abstention, from member Andrew V. Putnam, who represents Falmouth on the commission.
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