In light of a expansion project proposed by Algonquin Gas Transmission Corporation for its pipeline facility in northwestern Ramapo, Vice Chairman of the Rockland County Legislature Alden H. Wolfe and Legislator Douglas J. Jobson introduced a resolution to urge Algonquin to submit plans to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a secondary means of access to its facility. The resolution also urges FERC to reject the application for expansion in the absence of a plan for secondary access. The resolution was unanimously passed by the County Legislature at its May 15th meeting.
Algonquin presently has an application before FERC for approval of an expansion to the facility, which serves as a hub to interconnect several pipelines providing natural gas to outlying regions. At present, there is only one means of direct access to the facility, which is adjacent to Kakiat County Park, a residential neighborhood and nearby Viola Elementary School. The current access is through an easement located on a residential homeowner’s property on Sky Meadow Road, a narrow and winding road that ends in a cul-de-sac. Vehicles must first pass over the Sky Meadow Road Bridge which spans the Mahwah River and its deteriorating condition and frequent inaccessibility during heavy seasonal rains, hurricanes and winter storms is a serious concern.
Vice Chairman Wolfe, who is also the chair of the Legislature’s Environmental Committee, first addressed the matter at a recent meeting of the Committee. Algonquin did not respond to an invitation by Wolfe to attend the meeting. “I'm stunned that this facility has existed for this long with only one way in and out. In an emergency, first responders would find it impossible to respond in a timely manner, as maneuvering vehicles and equipment on this narrow road and over the small bridge will interfere with response time. The proximity of the facility to homes and Viola Elementary School must be considered by both Algonquin and FERC during the application process.”
“We are asking Algonquin and FERC to take a hard look at the surrounding issues,” said Legislator Jobson. “It is understood that Algonquin operates in compliance to industry and federal operational standards, but a huge human factor exists here. Residents are wary. The facility has grown into a major complex over its forty years in operation and with that comes greater concerns. Both Algonquin and FERC must respect and consider the safety concerns of the residents and the school district.”
Legislator Wolfe added, “Without assurances that the public safety issues will be addressed through an alternative means of access, Algonquin's application to expand should simply be denied.”