Station plans draw protest
MOUNT PLEASANT – Residents concerned that a compressor station might be built less than a mile from town turned out en masse Wednesday to find out what it might mean.
About 75 residents filled the Mount Pleasant Fire Hall Wednesday for an informational meeting organized by Joe Zelek, a township resident worried that the compressor station destined for Harrison County could end up being virtually in his back yard.
“I’m not against anybody,” Zelek said. “I’m not against anybody making money, I’m not against anybody creating jobs, I’m not against anything that would be good for the community. But I am against setting a facility that’s potentially dangerous that close to our community.”
Chuck Strizak, a township trustee, told the group he’d visited a compressor station in West Virginia operated by Chesapeake and hadn’t noticed any noise or odors.
“I smelled nothing, I heard nothing at all,” he said.
Mount Pleasant resident Irma Hooker said she’s concerned because the pipeline being built locally is so big, the potential for noise and emissions is much bigger as well. “I would guess this one is nearer 30 inches or 36 inches,” she said. “I’m guessing it will need bigger turbines.”
Salem Township resident Ed Hasberger told the crowd he’s aware of sites originally permitted for one compressor station, “and now they’ve got 12.”
“There are some compressor sites in Pennsylvania and West Virginia on 20 or 30 acres, and there was only going to be one,” he said. “Now they’ve got six.”
He also voiced concern that, should there be a problem, “you guys have a town sitting right by (it). If it goes, the whole town” would be impacted.
“God knows we need jobs,” he said. “But we need to keep the industry safe.”
Sherry Becker-Gorby, a Mount Pleasant resident who raises cattle, said she’s concerned about the potential health impacts to her livestock as well as her family.
“There’s absolutely no mechanism to determine whether or not animals slaughtered for human consumption have been raised near toxic substances or wastes generated by the gas industry,” she said. “I live a mile outside Mount Pleasant and about two miles from the compressor station site. … If I felt my animals were contaminated, I wouldn’t put them in the food chain but I don’t know if everybody else feels that way.”
Hasberger had cited an explosion in Sissonville, W.Va., that melted hundreds of feet of roadway, but Strizak said it was a truck backing into the gas line, not a safety malfunction, that caused it.
“There were hazards in the steel mills, hazards in power plants,” he said. “There’s always something that can happen, you do everything in your power to eliminate the possibility but it can still happen.”
Zelek said best case scenario, he’s hoping they can convince Spectra to rethink its its site plans.
“Our best opportunity to work together and move the facility is now, right now,” he said. “Nothing is finalized, everything is just proposed.
“My goal is not to stop the entire project,” he added. “It’s to work together to move the compressor station to a more remote location.”
Zelek also said Spectra has indicated it is willing to host an informational meeting in Mount Pleasant rather than Steubenville, as it originally planned.
After the meeting, Shawn Bennet, spokesman for Energy In Depth Ohio, said he was pleased Spectra would give residents a chance to learn more about the project as well as “the benefits and opportunities it will bring to the region” and that the “continued investment in infrastructure is allowing expansion in shale development and job creation” throughout the region.