County's gas advisory committee has pipeline concerns

NORWICH – Discussions concerning natural gas pipelines dominated the two-plus hour Chenango County Natural Gas Advisory Committee meeting held at the County Office Building last month.

Chenango County Emergency Management Director Matt Beckwith was on hand to answer the committee’s questions regarding safety issues, such as mapping and tagging pipelines and gathering lines. Town officials from Smyrna and Plymouth, where much of the county’s natural gas activity is occurring, asked for maps so that residents and future property owners would know where the infrastructure was buried.

But according to Beckwith, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security prohibits public disclosure of natural gas pipeline locations. While he assured the committee that Norse Energy, Inc., the company currently developing Chenango County’s Herkimer Sandstone reserves, has given him the coordinates – and that both lines and well heads have been assigned 911 addresses – he said disclosing that information publicly could result in it landing in the hands of terrorists.

“Everything’s changed since 9/11,” said Beckwith. “The (whereabouts of) pipelines are considered a high security risk resource in our county because of terrorist threats. They could know where they are.”

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