Huge Atlantic Coast Pipeline Compressor Station Planned for Northampton Co.
Send your comments by November 20th, 2017 to:
email@example.com - put "ACP/DAQ" in subject line
Comments may also be submitted by USPS mail to:
Division of Air Quality, Attn: Charles McEachern, 3800 Barrett Drive, Raleigh, N.C., 27609
Given the big remaining questions about risks to human health, climate impacts, and environmental justice, please ask the Division of Air Quality to DENY this permit and get more information from the ACP, LLC, nearby residents, and other nearby polluters for a new review and comment period!
What is the Compressor Station that ACP proposes to build?
- an installation of large compressor engines and other equipment used to push methane gas (“natural” gas)
- the proposed Northampton County compressor station would include three large compressors (a total of 22,000 horsepower), a smaller backup compressor, several very large tanks to hold pipeline liquids and wastes;
- other planned equipment includes “blowdown” and exhaust “silencers”, metering equipment, a pipeline launcher and receiver, filter/separators, and a communications tower.
- the compressor stations along the proposed ACP are each expected to push the gas more than 150 miles, so pressures will be very high near the station, and more compressor stations may be proposed along the pipeline
- methane, other dangerous gases and particulates leak at many places from compressor station equipment, so nearby residents are exposed frequently
- planned and accidental “blowdowns” release large volumes of methane, other volatile organic compounds and particulates, dangerous to community health
- sparks can easily ignite fires or explosions, endangering nearby communities
What are our concerns about Air Quality and the proposed Northampton Compressor Station?
- the permit application DOES NOT:
- contain critical information needed to properly regulate the compressor station
- take into account the impact of other nearby major polluters
- the Air Quality permit DOES NOT:
- include enforceable requirements, instead only requiring
- the facility’s operators “to the extent practical, consistent with good air pollution control practice for minimizing emissions”
- a completely “complaint-driven” system for dust (particulates) control and odor control rather than an enforceable dust control plan that includes monitoring
- acknowledge the impact of total air pollution from major nearby polluting facilities (e.g., the Pleasant Hill compressor station, Georgia Pacific mill, Enviva wood pellet plant)
- include monitoring requirements for Volatile Organic Compounds or Hazardous Air Pollutants
- require regional modeling and monitoring to establish clear limits to releases from the compressor station in order to protect local air quality and the nearby community
- consider the project’s environmental harms to minority and low-income communities, as required by DEQ’s Environmental Equity policy and its obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- include enforceable requirements, instead only requiring
What are the predicted impacts of the proposed Northampton Compressor Station?
According to the permit application, the Northampton Compressor Station would emit:
- 19.2 tons per year of nitrogen oxides (NOx)
- 21.2 tons per year of volatile organic compounds (VOC)
- 18.4 tons per year of particulate matter (PM)
- nearly 130,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (CO2E)
- several different hazardous air pollutants
- a significant amount of ammonia
In short, the facility will put more hazardous air pollutants, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (precursors of ozone, also known as smog), particulate matter, greenhouse gases, and other pollutants into the air that people breathe. All of these pollutants are harmful to people’s health.
Every compressor station routinely studied by the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (October 2017) routinely released large volumes of chemicals associated with a variety of diseases and disorders. Nearby residents experience higher respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological problems, and they report elevated stress levels due to 24/7 noise.
Studies cited by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in its environmental impact statement found elevated concentrations of dangerous pollutants from samples collected near compressor stations. These include volatile organic compounds, fine particulate matter, and gaseous radon. Some VOCs, such as benzene and formaldehyde, are carcinogens. Those who live near compressor stations have reported a number of symptoms from skin rashes to gastrointestinal, respiratory, and neurological problems.
What do we want DEQ/DAQ to do?
DAQ must ensure no adverse health effects from this facility, taking into account emissions from other nearby sources.
DAQ has not performed the analysis to make this determination, required before issuing a permit. The department should require modeling of the expected air pollution from this facility and monitoring of existing, nearby major sources of air pollution.
DEQ must consider the project’s environmental harms to minority and low-income communities.
The Northampton compressor station is within a census block group where 79.2 percent of the population is African American. DEQ must complete a rigorous environmental justice review before it can grant this permit.
DEQ should update its regulations and subject facilities like the Northampton compressor station to major source permit requirements as the greenhouse gas major source threshold is exceeded.
Given Governor Cooper’s commitment to combating climate change, the compressor station must be considered a major new source of greenhouse gas pollution, with nearly 130,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. Methane is an especially powerful greenhouse gas, at least 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20 year time frame.
DAQ should rescind the draft permit and require the Company to obtain an air toxic permit that fully evaluates the risks to the public.
More information is needed about the effects of air pollution from the proposed compressor station before an air quality permit can be issued.