The proposed high-pressure natural gas pipeline that National Grid wants to install along Service Road has drawn the attention of the school committee.
The committee has voted to send a board member to a hearing with the Energy Facilities Siting Board later this month to speak in favor of moving the proposed pipeline.
At Wednesday night’s meeting, committee member Nancy A. Crossman said that the board should be concerned about the pipeline and the safety risk it poses to students in the Sandwich schools.
“We have buses that travel this road, the Service Road, every day with our students, hundreds of students, multiple times a day,” she said. She also noted that the high school is nearby, as is Corpus Christi Church, the evacuation center for the schools in the event of a disaster.
Several residents spoke to the committee about their concerns over the pipeline.
School committee chairman Andrea M. Killion said that while student safety should be a concern of the board, the role of the school committee is to set policy, and the pipeline is not a policy issue.
Member Marie A. Kangas responded that the school committee needs to be an advocate for the students.
“If there’s an issue that can affect our students, I think we need to get out there,” Ms. Kangas said.
Daryl A. Crossman of Telegraph Hill Road noted that the buses and the safety of the school children riding on those buses is “within the purview of the school committee.”
Mr. Crossman is Nancy Crossman’s husband.
He also noted that “a number of parents wait outside their homes for their children coming home from school.”
Robert J. Doherty of Noel Henry Drive also worried about the safety of students traveling along Service Road in school buses.
“This a serious thing for the town. The last thing the town wants is a headline in The Boston Globe that says 25 school children killed in Sandwich from a gas pipeline explosion,” he said.
Kathleen E. Shaughnessy, who lives on Service Road, told the committee that she has a granddaughter who will be attending kindergarten at the Wing School in the fall. Ms. Shaughnessy said that the Energy Facilities Siting Board hearing later this month is to “choose the most cost-effective and convenient location for National Grid to install its pipeline.”
“We need someone there to speak to the safety of our children,” she said.
National Grid has proposed installing 23,000 feet of a 20-inch gas line that will begin at the Spectra Energy Station across from the intersection of Route 130 and Service Road, and runs 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 who are concerned about have a high-pressure natural gas pipeline located so close to their homes.
On February 28, the Cape Cod Commission gave its approval to the project. During that meeting, some residents mentioned the natural gas explosion at a restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri, in mid-February that left one person dead and more than a dozen others injured. Other residents mentioned that there was a gas leak in their neighborhood last Thanksgiving Day that trapped them in their homes for hours. Many said they were concerned that if a gas line exploded, they would not be able to escape.
The Energy Facilities Siting Board has scheduled a hearing on June 26 in the auditorium at the high school to hear from the public on the issue of the proposed gas pipeline. The next school committee meeting is scheduled for that same night. Ms. Crossman asked that the board either reschedule its June 26 meeting so that board members could be free to attend the Energy Facilities Siting Board hearing, or that the board agree to send a representative, preferably the chairman, to the meeting to express the committee’s concerns about student safety.
Ms. Killion said that she had no problem with the board sending a representative, but she felt that her main responsibility is to attend and monitor the school committee meeting.
Committee member Travis M. Andrade told the committee that when he arrived for Wednesday night’s meeting, he was skeptical that the location of the pipeline was within the committee’s purview. He said that his training in the Army Reserves has taught him to always consider risk assessment, which is two-fold: likelihood and severity. Mr. Andrade noted that the incidence of deaths caused by pipeline explosions in the past year is very low compared to other reasons, which means that an explosion is unlikely. Severity, however, would be high, destroying the town’s ability to operate, he said.
“It’s unlikely but it’s severe and that’s enough that people should be concerned,” he said.
Mr. Andrade offered to represent the school committee at the hearing, with the provision that anything he says at the hearing would have to be approved by the full committee first.
The board voted unanimous approval to have Mr. Andrade represent them at the June 26 hearing.