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Natural gas compressor station clears hurdle in Clinton

| Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Clinton's planning commission wants to make sure residents are protected from noise emitting from a proposed natural gas compressor station site.

The commission recommended approval for Superior Appalachian Pipeline's request to build a compressor station between Sun Mine Road and Lardintown Road on 20 acres of pasture land.

But the commission formally requested the company work with the township if a noise issue arises.

“If this noise becomes offensive a half-a-mile away ... then we would love to leave a door open to negotiate to address that noise,” said commission member Gabe Ciafre.

Superior Appalachian officials presented their plans to the commission Monday.

The supervisors are to consider the application next Tuesday.

A compressor uses a natural gas-powered engine to compress gas to move it through pipelines.

The proposed 8-acre pad could accommodate up to 10 compressors, but company officials could not say whether that would happen.

The site could have two 30-foot-by-230 foot buildings, depending on the number of compressors.

The buildings to be used are specifically engineered to muffle the sound of the compressors and would be closed and sealed, with the exception of an exhaust stack.

The state Department of Environmental Protection requires that noise be no louder than 60 dBA, or decibels adjusted, a common measurement for environmental noise.

That level is similar to that of a running air conditioner.

Existing woods and vegetation to the south of the site creates a natural buffer and the Superior plans to add buffers to the south and west, where homes on Sun Mine Road are located.

But sometimes regulations and buffers aren't enough, Ciafre said.

“Sound is weird; that sound you didn't hear yesterday can sound like it's in your living room another day,” he said.

He recalled a situation with noise coming from just a small section of the ESM Group industrial site off Saxonburg Boulevard.

The noise was within limits, but a disturbance to some homes. The company worked with residents to create a dirt barrier near part of the development, Ciafre said.

“We would like to know that there would be some rapport where we can call and say, ‘Hey, listen — come to this location' and see if we can do something,” Ciafre told Superior's representatives.

Paul Corrigan, Superior's project manager for the site, said the company will work with the township.

“We want to be a good neighbor,” he said. “That's what it comes down to.”

The proposed compressor station is associated with Superior's Pittsburgh Mills Pipeline, which begins in Frazer. The 14-mile line connects with Dominion Transmission Company's pipeline.

Resident Sam Edwards, who is part of a grassroots group called Clinton Marcellus Safety Information, asked what precautions Superior will take to reduce harmful chemicals released from the exhaust and venting of the compressors.

Emissions from the unconventional natural gas sector include carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide and volatile organic compounds, according to the DEP.

“The DEP and the (Environmental Protection Agency) have thresholds that we need to be under and we will be under those,” said Corrigan. He noted that the DEP requires Marcellus shale natural gas companies to monitor and report emissions several times a year.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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