AIR: Pollution & Health Effects

What you don’t see CAN hurt you

  • Compressor stations release dangerous chemicals during normal operations & millions of cubic feet of untreated natural gas during Blowdowns.
  • Pipelines and compressor stations leak Methane.

Though FERC decided that they do not need to complete a Health Impact Assessment for the area around the proposed Compressor Station 206 in their DEIS, our research shows that the toxic emissions are a grave concern. See the attachment, review the studies and information through the links provided, and write comments about your concerns to FERC & NJDEP.

Read our full report on why a health impact assessment is necessary.

Read and review studies and additional information

We don’t really know how much pollution will be emitted or released from the compressor station & pipelines since leaks and blowdown emissions are not predictable.  Williams/Transco and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) don’t know this either.   All known chemicals that are released from compressor stations do not need to be measured and reported according to regulations.

 

We do know that compressor stations emit cancer-causing chemicals into the air as part of normal operations, and these can travel as far as 5-miles away, depending on weather conditions.

  • The drifts of emissions from compressor stations vary day-to-day and hour-to-hour.

    

“Average emissions” is what is required as measurement & reporting of certain chemicals, and this minimization of spikes in polluting allows for compressor stations to be considered “minor” pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

  • This “averaging over a year and region” measure does not account for “peak” emissions or Blowdowns that can be especially problematic (spikes in emissions).
  • People living near compressor stations report health issues that seem to be related to the emissions.

    “The National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) used as a benchmark for air quality were not created to assess the air quality and safety in a small geographic area with fluctuating emissions…NAAQS reflects what, over a region, over time, is deemed safe population-wide.  This is very different than what is safe within for instance 1200 feet of [a] compressor station.” — SWPA-EHP Report (click to read full report)

The company cannot tell how many “blowdowns” will occur at the compressor station, but millions of cubic feet of untreated natural gas is released during blowdowns.

  • To depressurize gas during scheduled maintenance, to respond to an emergency, or by accident, natural gas is vented to the air.  A blowdown is the largest single emission from a compressor station.  The blowdown releases a gas plume that extends 40-60 meters in the air.  A blowdown can last up to three hours, with the first 30-60 minutes being the most intense.
  • People living near compressor stations have reported incidents of odors and burning eyes, headaches and coughing, during blowdowns. [Source: SWPA-EHP Report]

Potential Fugitive Releases & Accidents at both Compressor Stations & Pipelines carry risks that are not considered by current regulations.  Pipelines leak Methane, a significant contributor to ozone & smog.  When natural gas escapes unburned, as it often does during production and distribution, its essential component, methane, is particularly pernicious — a greenhouse gas that is more than 80 times as potent as carbon dioxide over 20 years as it dissipates.

Methane PLUME Measurements