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They Rallied Against the Compressor Station Days Before a Court Decision

WAMC/Allison Dunne

Some residents in a western Orange County town gathered over the weekend for a rally, in protest of the ongoing construction of a natural-gas compressor station. The station is being built to increase the capacity of a natural gas pipeline heading towards New York City.

Millennium Pipeline’s natural gas compressor station is being built on a site on a residential road. Nearby residents along with activists gathered Saturday across the street from the site in the hamlet of Westtown, which is in the Town of Minisink. They say they are concerned about toxic air emissions, among many other things. Yet Steve Sullivan, a spokesman for Rockland County-based Millennium Pipeline, says the Minisink project passed rigorous reviews of emissions, and safety standards.

Leanne Baum, her husband, and four kids live directly across the street from the site. When asked whether she would move, she answers:

Nick Russo says he, too, will relocate, even if his property value plummets.

Russo, a retired New York City police officer, says he moved to the area in 2003, after breathing in toxic dust from working at ground zero.

It’s a town where many 9-11 first responders reside. John Feal says he drove about two-and-a-half hours to support his fellow 9-11 first responders. He is the founder and president of The FealGood Foundation.

Many of the protestors echoed Feal’s opinion about the alternative site. Yet Millennium’s Sullivan says that Millennium-owned site, in Orange County’s Deerpark, was deemed unsuitable.

It was not the first rally held in protest of the compressor station, but it was the first time clean-water advocacy group Riverkeeper was involved.

That’s Paul Gallay, president of Westchester-based Riverkeeper.

And that means, says the Hudson Riverkeeper, he could be dedicating some of his staff to the legal battle, as the U.S. Court of Appeals is expected to decide this week whether to grant a stay of construction, pending a full hearing of the residents’ case currently before the court, which challenges the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of the project.

Millennium’s Sullivan says the Minisink project is more than fifty-percent constructed, and is expected to be completed and online by April. He says the state’s upcoming decision on fracking will have no impact the Minisink compressor station.

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