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South Buffalo residents raise questions about compressor station

| Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, 12:32 a.m.

South Buffalo residents wanted more information than XTO Energy officials could provide at a Monday public hearing regarding the potential noise and air pollution that might be created by a proposed natural gas compressor station near Ford City Road and Grandview Drive.

“They have not proven that they can keep me safe as a neighboring landowner,” said Craig Chodkowski, whose Ford City Road home is located within 500 feet of the proposedsite. “It is up to you gentlemen (supervisors) to decide if they can prove that I'm going to be able to enjoy my property as I would any other day. If it's going to affect me in any manner, then it should be denied.”

About 80 residents attended a public hearing at which XTO provided information on the compressor station and a pipeline that would bring gas to the site. Many residents who spoke objected to the compressor station because of concerns about noise.

A study on existing ambient noise will be conducted at the site in the near future, officials said. Noise information on the actual station won't be available until after it's built.

In the coming weeks, XTO plans to submit data from the noise study, as well as information on state Department of Environmental Protection air pollution control requirements. The information would be made available to residents.

Township ordinance prohibits noise higher than 60 decibels beyond the property line. That level is equivalent to normal conversation or background music.

“I thought they weren't as prepared as they should have been,” said Supervisor Terry Van Dyke. He felt that XTO representatives should have provided noise and pollution data from some of their similar facilities.

Township officials have 45 days to vote on the applications.

The company must receive state permits for the pipeline and compressor station in order to proceed. Some permits are pending state review; others haven't yet been submitted, XTO officials said.

XTO representatives spent about an hour explaining how the compressor station will be designed and operate, including safety controls, how noise would be regulated and the number of vehicles that would access the site.

The station initially would process gas gathered from wells located along Scenic Drive.

XTO wants to build a 4½- mile pipeline between the two sites that would connect to the NiSource Midstream Services gas transmission line, which runs across Western Pennsylvania.

The company proposed four compressors inside a green metal, sound-dampening building. The building is proposed to be 50 feet wide, 200 feet long and 32 feet high.

Officials said 1,700-horsepower engines would operate the compressors around the clock. Eight cooling fans, one for each compressor, would be outside the building. Each fan is designed to create the least noise possible, company officials said.

Safety features include valves that can shut down or vent the facility in the event of a problem, a sensor that monitors for light signatures unique to fire, and gas monitors in the ceiling. Tanks to hold water extracted from the gas would have secondary containment.

“I liken it to if my kids were playing Frisbee, I would want them to play in the middle of this facility and feel just as safe as they would in my backyard,” said Aaron Tucker, an engineering supervisor for XTO Energy.

The facility would not have a flare to burn off gas in the event of over-pressuring. A venting sensor would release gas into the air where it would dissipate.

Trucks would enter the facility about twice a week to haul away the salt water for disposal.

The site would be enclosed by a six-foot-tall fence topped with barbed wire.

It's possible the company could request to expand the facility to include eight compressors, depending on the amount of natural gas and whether the company contracts to gather gas from other companies' wells.

Residents questioned why XTO couldn't have built the compressor station in the Murphy's Bottom Road area, which is zoned light industrial.

Tucker said the chosen location was the “most optimum point,” given the location of the NiSource transmission line and the fact that there is an existing connection valve there.

“This is the best location for them,” said Mike Emeloff, whose Ford City Road home is about 1,000 feet from the site. “What's the best location for us?”

Kristen Chodkowski, president of the parent-teacher organization at South Buffalo Elementary School, which is about a mile from the site, said she's worried about students' safety and how bus stops might be affected.

“If you have heavy machinery coming through at times when potentially hundreds of kids are standing along the road … one child being put in danger is enough,” she said.

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

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