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National Fuel sets pipeline meeting in Wheatfield

WHEATFIELD – With public opposition seemingly on the rise in Wheatfield to a National Fuel pipeline project, the company announced Friday that it will hold a public meeting in the town next month.

However, anyone who intends to go to the Jan. 13 session must pre-register, the company said.

National Fuel is planning to spend $455 million to expand its underground natural gas pipeline system in Western New York, to carry gas pumped from the hydrofracking fields of north-central Pennsylvania to Canada.

However, in Niagara County citizen activists have been building opposition to the plan because of two facilities they regard as dangerous.

In Pendleton, the company intends to install two compressors, totaling more than 22,000 horsepower, on Killian Road to move the gas along. In Wheatfield, National Fuel seeks to build a gas dehydration station on Liberty Drive to remove water from the gas.

Opponents, organized as the Pendleton Action team and the Wheatfield Action Team, contend that the stations will emit dangerous chemicals and pose a risk of explosion.

National Fuel spokeswoman Karen L. Merkel said, “A great deal of misinformation is being publicly discussed, as people are simply turning to Google and YouTube searches and assuming that this facility will match those on the Internet.”

According to a “fact sheet” the company issued Friday, the dehydration station is to be built on 2 acres of a 40-acre parcel of land on Liberty Drive, with the nearest home about one-half mile away. The station is to include two 33-foot-high towers, each with a 7-foot interior diameter, and two reboilers, each measuring 10 feet wide, 32 feet long and 21.5 feet high.

The station’s purpose is to dehumidify the gas, using triethylene glycol to absorb the water. That chemical is directed to the reboiler, which heats the water out of the mixture. The resulting steam goes through a thermal oxidizer that destroys 99 percent of the hydrocarbons from the gas that might have been picked up in the process.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has the final say over approvals for the project, but Pendleton has hired environmental attorney Gary A. Abraham of Great Valley to fight it.

Wheatfield Councilman Larry L. Helwig has been agitating for weeks for a public meeting in that town. He got his wish Friday, as National Fuel announced it will hold a session from 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 13 in the Wheatfield Community Center behind Town Hall, 2800 Church Road.

Merkel said those who want to attend should email their name, address and phone number to corpcomm@natfuel.com. An email or phone call will follow to confirm the reservation. The same procedure was used at meetings about the compressor at Wendelville Fire Hall in Pendleton.

During the first hour of the session, attendees will be able to hold one-on-one conversations with National Fuel representatives responsible for the design and operation of the dehydration station. A formal presentation will begin at 7 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer period.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com