July 23, 2016

Mostly clear

Group: Pipe up on pipeline

A map displayed Tuesday shows the pipeline running through six Medina County townships: Wadsworth, Guilford, Montville, Lafayette, York and Litchfield. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAN POMPILI)

A local environmental group said Medina County commissioners aren’t providing enough information about a proposed natural gas pipeline project.

That’s why Concerned Citizens of Medina County, which opposes hydraulic fracturing — better known as “fracking” — hosted a meeting in Medina on Tuesday featuring two speakers who warned about the pitfalls of property easement contracts and the safety records of two of the pipeline’s three operating companies.

Kathy Jones, spokeswoman for Concerned Citizens, said county commissioners Adam Friedrich and Stephen D. Hambley turned down a request for a public forum, saying there was no need for one.

The proposed 36-inch pipeline would carry natural gas from wells using the hydraulic fracturing technology in eastern Ohio. The pipeline would run 250 miles from Carroll County across Ohio to Michigan and into lower Ontario, Canada.

Three companies — Spectra, Enbridge and Detroit-based DTE Energy — would be ownership and operation partners.

A map displayed at Tuesday’s meeting showed the pipeline running through six Medina County townships: Wadsworth, Guilford, Montville, Lafayette, York and Litchfield.

Jones said she obtained the map from the Akron Beacon Journal, which published it Sunday. The newspaper said the map came from Spectra.

In a Gazette interview Monday, Spectra spokesman Phil West said the map was outdated and that the route likely would change.

“Since we are so early in the process, the routing — even down to which counties the pipeline could run through — is not firm,” West said. “The map that appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal is from preliminary discussions held about three months ago, and may change as the project develops.

“The final route will depend on many factors.”

Commissioner Friedrich also said Monday that the project is in the preliminary stages and information is tentative at best.

At Tuesday’s meeting, at Unity of Medina Church at Williams on the Lake, both speakers discussed problems involving pipelines.

Jim Bilek, of Medina, talked about a July 25, 2010, oil spill in Michigan that resulted from a faulty crude oil pipeline operated by Nexus partner Canadian-based Enbridge.

More than 1 million gallons of oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River over 17 hours. The company spent $820 million cleaning up the spill and paid a nearly $4 million federal fine, he said.

Bilek also cited incidents in which pipeline ruptures at compressor stations in British Columbia operated by Nexus partner Spectra Energy ruptured, one on June 23, 2012, and another five days later.

Kathy Allen, who identified herself only as being from the general area, said she is embattled with a pipeline company seeking to run a gas line across her property, which is not in Medina County.

She said companies routinely tell property owners one thing in their survey and cover letters, but cautioned them that the easement document itself is the only binding document and often says something entirely different.

She said learning the language and knowing the laws of eminent domain will help residents fight unwanted property easement and potentially ward pipeline builders.

“To oppose a pipeline company, it will take a strong person or group of persons or even a neighborhood,” she said.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.