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Natural gas pipes stockpiled in South Lebanon

Written by Daniel Walmer/Lebanon Daily News | May 24, 2016 9:27 AM
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Williams is storing pipes at the former Alcoa plant at 3000 State Drive in South Lebanon Township. The segments are 40, 60 or 80 feet in length and some weigh about 10 tons. (Photo: Michael K. Dakota, Lebanon Daily News)

Will be used to build Atlantic Sunrise pipeline, Williams says

(Lebanon) -- The underground Atlantic Sunrise pipeline isn't expected to go online until late 2017, but pipes that may be used to construct it can now be viewed above ground in South Lebanon Township.

Chris Stockton, a spokesman for the project, said there are currently about 80 miles of pipe stockpiled between two storage yards, one in Monroe County in northeastern Pennsylvania and one at 3000 State Drive, the site of the former Alcoa plant two miles south of Lebanon.

The pipe segments are 40, 60 or 80 feet in length and are 30, 36, or 42 inches in diameter, Stockton said. Some typical 60-foot segments weigh about 10 tons each.

The nearly 200-mile Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project - owned by Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line, a subsidiary of Tulsa, Okla.-based Williams - would bisect Lebanon County from north to south. It would also cross nine other counties while transporting natural gas from Marcellus Shale regions in northern Pennsylvania to the existing, 10,000-mile Transco Pipeline.

The storing of pipes sparked concern from members of anti-pipeline group Lebanon Pipeline Awareness. Group president Ann Pinca said she was "surprised and dismayed" that pipe segments would be brought to the area before final approval of the project by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

"They're making the assumption that it's a done deal when it isn't a done deal," Pinca said. "There's nothing illegal about it, but we do think it sends a message."

Stockton said it is common to manufacture and transport pipes to the area of a planned project before final approval by FERC and necessary to get the project online as early as anticipated. If the project would not be approved, the pipes could either be sold or used for a different Williams pipeline project elsewhere.

"It's a risk they have to take preserve the project's schedule," he said.

There will eventually be a third storage location for Atlantic Sunrise pipe segments in Schuylkill County, he said.

Pinca also said she was disappointed that some of the pipes had a label reading "Made in Turkey," and Stockton acknowledged that most of the pipes for the project have been manufactured overseas. While Williams prefers to work with domestic companies, there are only about four mills in the United States that make that type of pipeline, he said.

Williams received a preliminary environmental stamp of approval for the project from FERC on May 5 when the regulatory agency released a draft environmental impact statement saying most environmental impacts would be "reduced to less-than-significant levels."

That report is now in the midst of a 60-day public comment period, scheduled to end June 27. At the urging of anti-pipeline groups, the Lebanon County commissioners agreed on May 20 to write a letter asking FERC to extend the public comment period to 90 days.

There will also be four public hearings on the project, including one June 13 at Manheim Township High School and one June 14 at Lutz Auditorium at Lebanon Valley College.

Williams expects to receive FERC's final approval for the project by early 2017 and to have the pipeline in service by late 2017, according to its website.

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and the Lebanon Daily News.

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