Williams Transco Slaps Down U.S. Army Corps of Engineers In Rockaway Pipeline Dispute

Mar 21st, 2013 | By Mark | Category: Lead Articles, NYC Natural Gas Infrastructure

NatGas Consulting

This map, submitted by Transco in connection with a recently filed application to build a new natural gas pipeline through National Park lands in New York City, shows the proposed route of the controversial project.

The company seeking to build a natural gas pipeline through national park land near New York City dismissed safety recommendations from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently, asserting instead that their own plans to build the pipeline to a lesser standard will provide “full protection of the pipeline while minimizing environmental impacts,” according to documents obtained by NaturalGasWatch.org.

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In a Feb. 5 letter to Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company project manager Roberta Zweier, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Naomi Handell stated that, in addition to other requirements, offshore natural gas pipelines must be buried in a trench on the sea floor at a minimum depth of four feet.

In a March 19 response from Transco Manager of Land, Permits & GIS Timothy Powell, the company rejected the USACE recommendations, stating that digging the trench to a depth of four feet would needlessly delay the project and asserting that the federal safety regulations were, in their experience, overly burdensome.

A three-foot trench, Transco said, would be adequate.

From the Transco response:

To achieve the additional 1-foot of cover Transco would be required to excavate additional area on the sea floor which would increase both sedimentation and turbidity impacts over the current proposal and potentially result in a longer period for offshore construction. …

Also, Transco has extensive experience constructing and operating offshore pipelines. Throughout Transco’s offshore system the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has required 3 feet of cover for other projects in state and federal waters. Therefore, we believe our design balances full protection of the pipeline while minimizing environmental impacts. …

Transco believes the measures described above, which provide a depth of at least 3 feet of cover when fully implemented, provide a more than adequate level of protection. Transco has undertaken projects across its network of assets in other USACE districts and the implementation of a specific number for the depth of cover is varied; therefore Transco has premised the design as noted above on safety and security for operation as well as users of the area and sees both requirements being met with a burial depth of 3 feet below the seabed.

Under existing federal regulation, Transco cannot begin construction of the pipeline without approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

You can read the Feb. 5 letter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers here: USACE Rockaway Pipeline Info Request Feb. 5, 2013

You can read the full text of the Transco response here: Transco Response to USACE Info Request March 19, 2013

Transco, a division of Williams Partners LP, filed an application on Jan. 7 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seeking permission to build the controversial new natural gas distribution pipeline through national park land to bring additional natural gas supply from the hydraulic fracturing wells drilled in the Marcellus Shale Play into New York City.

Known as the Rockaway Lateral Line, the proposed 26-inch, high-pressure natural gas pipeline would run across wetlands in Jamaica Bay, through Jacob Riis Park beach and Floyd Bennett Field – where a new compressor station would be built – and on into Brooklyn near Flatbush Ave.

This detailed photo illustration supplied by Transco and included with the application materials submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shows the planned route for the proposed Rockaway Lateral pipeline.

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4 Comments to “Williams Transco Slaps Down U.S. Army Corps of Engineers In Rockaway Pipeline Dispute”

  1. J Maracic says:

    What could possibly go wrong? KABOOOOM !!!!

  2. [...] pipeline rupture in West Virginia comes just days after the company rejected a key safety recommendation put forward by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in connection with the [...]

  3. mcameron says:

    Article refers to a “compressor station” in Floyd Bennett Field. In fact, plans call for a “metering and regulating station,” which I believe is considerably more benign than a compressor station (please correct me if I’m wrong). Sadly, the m&r station will be built inside one of the landmarked hangars in FBF, in complete contravention of the mission of Gateway, which is a national park.

    A couple of months ago, at a public talk, I asked Malcolm Bowman, a professor of oceanography at the Marine Sciences Research Center, SUNY Stony Brook, about Transco’s plans to trench to a mere 3-foot depth. His response: He couldn’t speak to the specifics of the Transco project, but a pipeline in that area trenched at a depth of 9 to 12 feet would be “quite safe.” A 3-foot trench would be totally inadequate, especially considering the location in Rockaway, at the precise point where Hurricane Sandy wreaked complete havoc.

  4. [...] initially insisting that they knew best, officials at the Williams Company agreed recently to redesign their Rockaway Lateral project to [...]

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