“This whole pipeline is a threat, primarily to our water,” Sandra Kissam said. Kissam addressed an audience gathered at Newburgh Town Hall in opposition to the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline – a 178-mile-long, double pipeline expected to transport crude and refined oil products between Linden, N.J. and Albany.
The open meeting was hosted by Orange Residents Against Pilgrim Pipeline (RAPP), a local offshoot of the Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipeline. The forum was attended by about 100 people last Thursday.
“They want to connect to the river,” said Kissam, pointing to a large map that showed a dotted path representing the route of the pipeline, poised to cut through six New York counties including Orange and Ulster.
Kissam noted two lateral lines branching off of the pipeline, proposed to follow alongside the New York State Thruway. On the map, the northernmost lateral headed east at the Orange-Ulster County border, straight toward the Danskammer power plant on the Hudson River.
“Why do they want to build out here?” Kissam asked, noting the lateral was situated very close to the Delaware Aqueduct tap water treatment plant on Lattintown Road.
Kissam, RAPP’s acting chair, pointed out that the southern lateral headed directly for Global Partners’ riverside terminal in New Windsor, where the company ships oil on trucks and barges traveling up and down the Hudson River. “This (project) doesn’t benefit us at all,” Kissam asserted. “We are simply accepting the risk if this comes in. That’s all.”
The underground pipeline is planned to carry crude oil and refined oil products such as home heating oil, gasoline, diesel and kerosene. “The pipeline would handle an estimated 200,000 barrels in each direction each day (a total of 73 million barrels annually), roughly the amount of fuels currently transported along the Hudson by other modes of transportation,” Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings states.
The company claims the transportation of oil and oil products by pipeline is more “environmentally friendly” than other means of shipping, causing less emissions and reduced spillage.
“Transporting petroleum products via the Pilgrim Pipeline is far more environmentally friendly than relying on trucks or fleets of traditional barges,” the company website states. “In fact, the spill risk for barges is almost seven times greater than that for pipelines.”
But, if the company wants to reduce transportation of oil by barges, Kissam argued, they wouldn’t need laterals leading to the Hudson River. “This is the lie to their assertion that they want to reduce the amount of fuel to barges,” she said.
Global Partners withdrew an application to build a rail yard at the New Windsor site in 2014.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, there were an average of 307 pipeline incidents reported between 2013 and 2015, averaging 63 injuries and 13 fatalities each year.
The Newburgh Town Board voted to oppose the construction of the pipeline last year. The board cited numerous concerns regarding the pipeline, including its proposed route through the Chadwick Lake Reservoir watershed. More than 50 communities in New York and New Jersey have passed resolutions opposing the pipelines.
Last month, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced it would serve alongside the New York State Thruway Authority as co-lead agency for the project. Several municipalities quickly objected, citing, among other points, a conflict of interest relating to payments expected to be made to the NYSTA for the pipeline’s use of land along the state Thruway. The towns of Newburgh, New Paltz and Cornwall, and the City of Kingston were among the municipalities opposing.
Event keynote speaker Eric Weltman, of Food and Water Watch, urged concerned residents to take an active part in the review process for the pipelines. “Every one of you needs to comment on the draft scope,” he said, referring to the draft environmental impact statement on which the public will be able submit comments to the DEC. “We need to call for public hearings on the draft scope.”
To learn more about the issues surrounding the Pilgrim Pipeline, visit the Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipeline website at Stoppilgrimpipeline.com. To visit the Pilgrim Pipeline website, go to Pilgrimpipeline.com.
By SHANTAL RILEY