Ohio EPA issues permits for 5 natural gas compressor stations

Tom Henry, Toledo Blade



The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency announced late this afternoon it issued permits to install and operate natural gas compressor stations at five locations across Ohio — including Waterville and Clyde — in support of Spectra Energy’s proposed NEXUS Gas Transmission project.

The agency’s jurisdiction is limited only to air pollution that will be generated by the compressor stations, not the pipeline itself.

Ohio EPA officials stated permits were issued as final for proposed stations in Waterville, along Moosman Drive south of Neapolis-Waterville Road, in Clyde, east of Pickle Street and south of I-90, as well as in two Columbiana County locations, in Hanoverton, Ohio, and Salineville, Ohio, and in one Medina County location, in Wadsworth/Guilford Township.

The agency released little other details other than it reviewed the company’s application to ensure that emissions would comply with federal and state air pollution control standards, laws and regulations.

Copies of the permits may be viewed at epa.ohio.gov/pic/respond.aspx.

A March 16 Ohio Environmental Protection Agency public hearing in Waterville on the matter drew a boisterous crowd of nearly 600 people, one of the largest public hearings in northwest Ohio in years.

All 450 seats were taken and well over 100 people stood in the back and along the sides at Waterville Primary Community Room, which has a 680-person capacity. Nearly all available street parking within a half-mile was taken.

The hearing’s moderator, Mike Settles, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency public involvement coordinator, told the angry crowd the agency was “kind of pushing the comfort of the fire marshal with the large crowd we have tonight.”

Someone later asked for a show of hands if anyone was in favor of the compressor station.

Nobody raised their hand, and nobody testified in favor.

The first to testify, Jim Fritz, Anthony Wayne Schools superintendent, told state and local regulators the Waterville site is unacceptably close to five of the district’s six buildings, 4,000 students, and 300 staff members.

He and others cited complaints of burning lungs, nausea, headaches, sore throats, chronic dizziness, body pain, cancer, and other health problems associated with residents who live near compressor stations.

They also expressed concerns about the potential for explosions, especially so close to Waterville and Whitehouse.

Several people said they believe the compressor station will change the character of their community and hurt property values.

NEXUS officials have said the pipeline and the compressor stations will be operated safely, and that property values will not be impacted.

Several speakers said they are worried about exposure to formaldehyde, benzene, methane, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants they expect to become airborne in the Waterville-Whitehouse area if the compressor station is built at the proposed location.

NEXUS wants to build the compressor station to help move natural gas along a 255-mile pipeline it wants to build. It ultimately wants to send natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shale regions of eastern Ohio and West Virginia to markets in Ohio, Michigan, and Canada.

So many residents wanted to speak that Mr. Settles said he wasn’t sure if the Ohio EPA could get them all in during its allotted 3½ hours. A nearby teacher’s lounge was opened as an auxiliary site for residents to give testimony.

An Ohio EPA factsheet detailing the Agency’s role in issuing air permits and considerations related to natural gas compressor station emissions can be viewed on the Agency website: epa.ohio.gov/Portals/47/nr/CompressorStations.pdf.

Issuance of final permits can be appealed to the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC). Appeals generally must be filed within 30 days of issuing a final action; therefore, anyone considering filing an appeal should contact ERAC at (614) 466-8950 for more information, the agency said.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com, 419-724-6079, or via Twitter @ecowriterohio.