WHEATFIELD, NY-- Concerned residents in the Town of Wheatfield protested National Fuel's pipeline project Friday afternoon.
The Northern Access Project is a $455 million natural gas pipeline proposed by National Fuel more than two years ago. The plan would pump gas from Pennsylvania through several Western New York counties, and connect to the Trans-Canada pipeline beneath the Niagara River.
A dehydration facility, which takes moisture out of gas, got local approval last week from the Wheatfield Planning Board. It would be located on Liberty Drive. National Fuel says the dehydrator would likely only run two days a year.
Protesters say they didn't get enough notice about meetings when decisions were made, but the gas company says that was not the case.
Residents say the project raises several health and safety concerns.
Jennifer Wozniak lives in Wheatfield, and she has been busy informing people about the project for about a year.
"It's a toxic emitting, benzene polluting, dehydration facility that we don't want in our community," says Wozniak.
She moved in to the neighborhood closest to where the dehydrator would be built last July and says 350 families live one-thousand feet away.
"Everyone's just nervous, and they're angry that we found out about it so late, and one of the major things is that we feel as if we're sort of helpless here," says Wozniak.
National Fuel's spokesperson says there have been 15 public meetings, mailers, and tours of similar facilities.
"I think the continued misinformation that is being widely discussed by anti-fossil fuel groups is not productive, and it's not providing residents of this region with the facts," says National Fuel Spokesperson Karen Merkel.
According to National Fuel, the Wheatfield site is industrially-zoned and neighbors within blocks of it would not see, hear, smell or know the facility is even there. National Fuel says plenty of pipelines like this already exist and aren't putting anyone in danger, and it's already moved the dehydrator site to accommodate concerns.
"We don't want the pipeline here obviously, but National Fuel is also not answering our questions, so we're hoping to get the attention of our state-level officials," says Wozniak.
"I know that there has been discussion that people are not happy with the answers that we have provided. We've provided the facts, but we can't force them to believe what we're saying," says Merkel.
Right now, the project is going through the federal review process. It would also need permits from the DEC. Merkel says if approved, it would go into service in November of next year.