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Expert urges commissioners to help fund NEXUS testing

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MEDINA — Lance S. Traves, president of Labyrinth Management Group Inc., has appealed to county commissioners to help pay for air quality tests at the proposed compression station in Guilford Township, part of the $2.1 billion NEXUS Gas Transmission project.

Labyrinth, 239 S. Court St., Medina, is a strategic environmental, health and safety consulting firm.

Sustainable Medina County was turned down by commissioners in November when the activist group asked if the county could contribute to help pay for testing being done by Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, which has an office in McMurray, Pa.

Baseline testing is being done at a cost of $9,500. Once the compression station is built, Southwest Pennsylvania will retest the air for an additional $9,500 to see if any toxins are being released.

“Essentially, I’m gong to ask Medina County to financially support that project because I think it’s good public policy,” Traves said Tuesday. “It’s a nonpartisan issue with respect to data collection. There’s a lot of hyperbole on both sides with regards to energy projects and potential adverse impacts on public health in the environment.”

Southwest Pennsylvania is “collecting real data on air concentrations,” Traves said.

He said it uses canisters that suck in air and gives a snapshot of what’s in the air.

Commissioners didn’t reverse their previous decision Tuesday on not paying for the air quality tests. Previously, Commissioner Pat Geissman — who wasn’t at Tuesday’s meeting — said the Akron Regional Air Quality Management District does similar testing as Southwest Pennsylvania, and it would come at no cost to the county.

“I would expect that (Akron Regional’s data collection) might be more focused on criteria pollutants like ozone and particulate matter, and a lot of the residents in this focus are a lot more (concentrated) on air toxins,” Traves said.

Construction hasn’t started at the compressor station, yet it has caused some uneasiness with residents.

“Getting real data will answer some underlying questions people (might) have with their health,” Traves said. “They’ve taken an industrial facility and placed it in a rural area.

“It would be a lost opportunity for Medina County if it did not actually participate with this post-construction evaluation process.”

He said it would be a good public relations move for the county to help pay for the air tests.

“At this point, the supporters, Sustainable Medina County, is asking for good public policy, collection of data and let’s answer these questions about potential post-operational concerns about the environmental impact of their surrounding residences,” Traves said.

“It’s a relatively trivial cost for the sampling. This will be an opportunity to engage with some people who maybe have been very negative about the way the county has handled this, and actually from a public policy standpoint, stand up and actually support good information.”

He said Southwest Pennsylvania is a nonprofit and has some top-notch people on its staff.

“(It’s a) nonpartisan data collection. Before it’s built, you have another opportunity to get background, which I highly encourage. Post-operation — it will be a year or two for construction — you have a lot of time to think about (helping to pay for it). It would be encouraging to re-engage the residents.”

Labyrinth was previously in the news when it conducted an Environmental Impact Report on Osborne Medina Inc. in the fall, evaluating the airborne dust, noise, silica and storm water. It was hired by the city of Medina to look into the concrete-crushing operation at Osborne’s plant, at 795 Progress Drive.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.



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