“Which Evil Is Worse?” Kinder Morgan’s Proposed Pipeline Routes Through Wilmington Appear Problematic

WILMINGTON, MA – Kinder Morgan is trying to build a natural gas pipeline that passes through a portion of Wilmington.  The Selectmen received some good news – and some bad news – about the proposal on Monday night.

In January, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to oppose the pipeline project, in large part, because of the line’s proximity to the town’s Brown Crossing and Salem St. well fields, which currently produces 64% of Wilmington’s water supply.  (Read the Town Manager’s memo HERE and original pipeline route HERE.)

GOOD NEWS: In late February, town officials met with representatives from Kinder Morgan to review the route of the proposed pipeline.  Kinder Morgan agreed to support the town’s proposed alternative route, which would extend a portion of the pipeline along an existing electric utility corridor, allowing it to avoid close proximity with the aforementioned wells.

BAD NEWS: The proposed new route would now see the pipeline go under the Benevento Quarry.  Kinder Morgan told the town their company has performed “similar work on other gas pipeline projects.”  The town continues to wait for requested information on those past similar projects.

“We have some serious questions about the safety of running a lateral gas pipeline under an active quarry,” said Town Manager Jeff Hull.  “It seems, intuitively, to be problematic, but we will reserve judgment until we get additional information.”

Hull also noted that, while Kinder Morgan has provided the town with a revised map that reflects the requested change in the pipeline running along the utility corridor, the map filed by the company with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on March 13 still shows the original pipeline route.  Town officials are trying to get to the bottom of the discrepancies.

“We will continue to follow up with Kinder Morgan and will have some conversations with counsel about our approach from here,” said Hull.

“Clearly the administration, the town and the board object to Plan A (existing route as contained in the paperwork on file with FERC),” said Selectman Mike Newhouse.  “We also object to Plan B, but if pressed between Plan A and Plan B – going through a resource area under our neighborhoods vs. going through an area beneath a quarry – I’m presuming we need the information they’ve indicated they have in order to decide which evil is worse.”

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