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Hudson Valley News

Proposed Pipeline Expansion Prompts Indian Point Analysis

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Spectra Energy
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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has put out for public comment a draft environmental impact statement concerning a proposed pipeline expansion project in the Northeast. The expansion includes property belonging to the Indian Point Nuclear power plant.

The draft environmental impact statement, or EIS, is for the Algonquin Incremental Market Project, or AIM Project. Algonquin Gas Transmission wants to expand its existing pipeline system from an interconnection at Ramapo, in Rockland County, to deliver additional natural gas transportation service to the Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts markets. The draft EIS addresses the potential environmental impacts of the construction and operation of nearly 38 miles of pipeline.

Marylee Hanley is spokeswoman for Houston-based Spectra Energy, which operates the 1,127 mile pipeline that goes from Lambertville, New Jersey to Boston. The expansion is for a portion of this pipeline and Hanley says the pipeline will be built in existing rights of way.

“We’re going into the same trench and we are lifting 26-inch pipeline and replacing that 26-inch pipeline with 42-inch-diamer pipeline,” Hanley says. “So we are seeking to expand our existing infrastructure to meet the region’s needs as soon as possible.”

She says construction would begin in spring of 2015 if all regulatory permits are in place. Part of the expansion includes a portion of the property of the Buchanan-based Indian Point nuclear power plant. Neil Sheehan is spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“Our primary interest has to do with whether this could impact the safe operation of the plant, as was the case with previous pipelines that were constructed in the area,” says Sheehan.

He adds:

“This is not the first pipeline that crosses the property,” says Sheehan. “There are already two existing lines -- a 26-inch line and a 30-inch line.”

Sheehan says the NRC will provide comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. Jerry Nappi is spokesman for Indian Point owner Entergy Nuclear. He says Entergy takes no position on the project, but has analyzed any potential impact to safety.

“We are required by regulation to analyze potential external impacts to safety of the plant, as all nuclear power plants are required to do,” Nappi says. “So, to that end, our engineers analyzed the pipeline. They worked with the owners of the proposed pipeline to understand different aspects of how it was going to be constructed, where it was going to be sited, the depth of the pipeline, etcetera, and determined that there’s no risk to the plant from the pipeline being sited where it’s proposed.”

Nappi explains that the pipeline replacement is for an area of Indian Point that is considered owner-controlled property, not near the reactors or vital plant structures.

“Indian Point sits on about 240 acres of land and what’s called the owner-controlled area is the outermost ring of the plant,” says Nappi. “So owner-controlled area is furthest away from the important safety structures and that’s important because obviously the closer the pipeline gets, the more potential risk there is.”

The NRC received Entergy’s risk analysis this week. Nappi says the analysis also will go to FERC.

The public comment period ends September 29. There will be four public comment meetings September 8-11 – one in Massachusetts; two in Connecticut, in Norwich and Danbury; and one in New York, in Cortlandt Manor in Westchester County. The New York public meeting is September 11.

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