Site near Pittsburgh Mills would be first for Allegheny County
March 28, 2012 8:00 AM
Joni Rabinowitz of Point Breeze takes notes before speaking during a public hearing in Lawrenceville Tuesday on Allegheny County's first proposed Marcellus Shale compressor station permit.
By Taryn Luna Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
More than two dozen residents voiced strong opposition to the first proposed permit for a Marcellus Shale gas compressor station in Allegheny County at a public hearing in Lawrenceville Tuesday night.
Some warned of the health effects seen at other compressor sites in an effort to persuade the Allegheny County Health Department to deny a permit for a Superior Appalachian Pipeline LLC compressor installation proposed for Kissick Lane near the Pittsburgh Mills Mall in Frazer.
"It's ludicrous that we're here talking about adding to the infrastructure because so many have told us of the ramifications," said Sarah Scholl, a public health worker. "This has to stop. Someone has to take a stand against this."
The Superior Appalachian facility would include five natural gas fueled compressor engines, three natural gas heated dehydrators/reboilers and two 6,500-gallon storage tanks.
The health department's draft installation permit classifies the facility as a "minor source" of air toxins, emitting 35 tons of nitrogen oxides and 17 tons of volatile organic compounds a year, plus 7 tons of formaldehyde and almost 11 tons of soot and fine particles.
Ken Magyar, vice president for project development with Superior, assured the health department of his company's intentions to meet and in some cases exceed regulations, provide training to first responders to prepare for an emergency and lessen the impact on residents.
"We look forward to being a good neighbor in Frazer Township and north Allegheny County," he said.
Mr. Magyar said the site is not expected to have significant impact on air quality.
But others called for the county to not only study emissions released from the Superior facility, but also aggregate those emissions with other shale gas operations in the area to determine the cumulative impact before approving another facility.
The Health Department has said the compressor station will be located near two producing Marcellus Shale gas wells.
"Aggregation is not just a technicality," said Matt Walker of the Clean Air Council. "It's basically a linchpin making sure the Clean Air Act is doing what it is supposed to."
Current state regulations use a quarter mile as a major qualifying criteria for determining if shale gas facilities should be considered as individual minor sources, as the Superior station is listed, or a single, major source of air pollutants, which are more strictly regulated.
State regulations differ from those of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which looks at a number of factors besides proximity.
Tom Hoffman, of Clean Water Action, pointed out that the county met federal air quality standards in 2011 for the first time in more than a decade.
"We really need the Health Department to not let that go to waste because some new industry has come to town," he said.
Others requested that the county update its dated air quality guidelines and set a precedent for Marcellus Shale operations in the county in the future.
"This is the first compressor station to come to the county," said Jamin Bogi, of Group Against Smog & Pollution. "All the more reason to do it right."