The citizens group Sustainable Medina County is focusing its latest move against construction of the NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline on making residents aware of a compressor station to be built in Guilford Township.
“We think people don’t even know about it,” said Kathie Jones, a leader of the group that organized a rally lasting more than an hour Saturday morning and attended by about 30 people at 175 Great Oaks Trail in Wadsworth.
“We believe our elected officials have failed to notify the residents about this and the environmental impact. It’s their duty to protest residents,” Jones said.
The 255-mile pipeline is a business partnership of Houston-based Spectra Energy and Detroit-based DTE Energy Co. The $2 billion system will transport gas from Columbiana County in eastern Ohio through nine other counties including Summit, Medina and Lorain on the way to a hub in Canada for export sales. Documents show a compressor station would be at 8707 Guilford Road in Guilford Township.
On Nov. 30, the route proposed by NEXUS received approval in a final environmental impact statement from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, D.C. The last step before construction may begin is approval from the three-member commission board, which could come any day. A spokesperson for FERC said the news will be announced by an online posting at www.ferc.gov. NEXUS officials asked at the end of 2015 to begin construction sometime in the first quarter of 2017.
On Friday, Medina-area state legislators were asked for their latest positions on the NEXUS project.
A spokesman for state Rep. Darrell Kick, R-Loudonville, said he supports the project.
“Typically pipelines have proven to be the safest way of transporting fuels across the state,” Daniel James said on behalf of Kick.
“As long as the companies, landowners, and the FERC can reach an agreement, I have no issue with the NEXUS pipeline,” a Kick statement said.
Kick, whose 70th Ohio House district includes western and northern Medina County along with Ashland and parts of Holmes counties, was elected Nov. 8 to succeed Dave Hall, who was prevented by term limits of running for re-election.
State Rep. Steve Hambley, R-Brunswick, said Friday he has written a letter to FERC in support of the pipeline, citing economic benefits to Ohio.
However, he added that “my main concern is safety and the impact on residents and the environment.”
He said the project is not a state issue, aside from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s role over placement of the compressor station.
State Sen. Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township, did not return a Gazette message seeking an updated position on the project. Obhof’s district includes Medina, Ashland and Richland and parts of Holmes counties.
Link to Standing Rock
Jones, of Sharon Township, said Sustainable Medina County is helping — and receiving support — from Cleveland Rocks With Standing Rock, a citizens organization. Groups from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation are opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.
Wadsworth residents Kelly Kuczynski and Richard Lewis held a “Cleveland Rocks” banner telling passersby Saturday that they are among Northeast Ohioans working to oppose pipelines in both places. They said their Northeast Ohio leadership committee was made up of 20 members and they had 500 followers on a Facebook page since beginning operations in December.
They are planning a screening of an environmental documentary 7 to 11 p.m. Feb. 20 at the Bop Stop at the Music Settlement, 2920 Detroit Ave., Cleveland.
Kuczynski said the Cleveland group so far has held four events, raising about $1,500 at each, with money going to lawyer fees and medical bills for people protesting in North Dakota.
Personal stories about the effect of the NEXUS line on landowners were shared by many among the 30 at the Saturday rally.
Kathleen Arthur of Cuyahoga Falls said her niece sold her home in Wadsworth last fall because of her family property’s proximity to the pipeline route and her allergies to formaldehyde.
“The pipeline doesn’t care (about people with those conditions),” Arthur said.
Pauline Chapman, who lives on Wooster Pike in Seville, showed people photos on her smartphone of land surveyors who came onto a neighbor’s property. Disputes about survey work have been an issue in Medina County Common Pleas Court.
Chapman said she has eight black walnut trees on her property that she fears would be destroyed if the pipeline is built. “What’s going to happen to them?” she said.
Chapman added that her work experience included nine years with a company that assisted in pipe-welding construction of the Perry Nuclear Plant. She said those years of knowledge are prompting her to make residents along the line aware of potential problems anywhere the route has “bends and curves.”
Tears formed in Rick Scholl’s eyes as he described his situation living in New Franklin in southern Summit County.
Scholl, a retired mechanical engineer, said the line is scheduled to be built 90 feet away from his home and will cross 660 feet of his property with a width of 100 feet. He said he has lived at the 4ﾽ-acre site for 32 years. “I have three oak trees that have to be 175 years old,” he said.
Scholl said he believes there is a danger that natural gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing methods — known as fracking — is vulnerable to corrosion, and that causes him to worry.
“How long will the pipeline last?” he asked.
The Ohio EPA has said a permit requested for the Guilford compressor station would allow the release per year of up to 31.2 tons of nitrogen oxide, 29.2 tons of volatile organic compounds, 7.8 tons of carbon monoxide, 6.2 tons of particulate matter less than 10 microns in size and 3.2 tons of sulfur dioxide. NEXUS officials have said the emission levels would be about equal to a dry cleaning, paint shop or gas station business.
Two other Summit County residents whose property is on the route are Mike Conley and Laura Urban. They have operated Urban Honey Bee, a bee-raising and honey business, for five years.
Conley said the NEXUS line is to be built 200 feet from his home and the area called the “blast zone” is 942 feet.
Blast zone refers to the distance from the line that could be affected in case of a fire, accident or explosion.
“I could be incinerated,” Conley said.
The Rev. Dr. Sharon Kiesel of Montville Township brought to the rally handouts five pages long of printed research about pipelines, chemicals and environmental concerns. A sixth page of her work listed six actions that citizens could take if they wish to assist Sustainable Medina County.
Kiesel said she served 21 years in the U.S. Army — from 1974 to 1995 — as a lieutenant colonel in logistics duties and is now a retired pastor in the Disciples of Christ church. She said she became intimately familiar with chemical health issues because she has been diagnosed with chronic inflammatory response syndrome and multiple chemical sensitivity.
“I have a broken immune system,” she said.
Kiesel said she sympathizes with property owners on the pipeline route and risks include asthma and autism.
“People don’t realize how serious this is. It can be life and death.”
At Saturday’s rally, most attendees held signs and waved to drivers, some of whom honked their horns as they went by.
“We’re getting a positive reaction,” Jones said. “We are waking people up to the knowledge about the compressor station. They’re thanking us.”
Conley said landowners know they will be paid by NEXUS for the line coming across private property.
“It’s a one-time easement,” he said. “But people need to know: I am affected today. It could be your property tomorrow.”
Staff writer Marina Malenic contributed to this report.
Contact Managing Editor Lawrence Pantages at (330) 721-4065 or firstname.lastname@example.org.