Pipeline Locations Still A Concern For Supervisors
Published: January 11th, 2011
By: Melissa deCordova

NORWICH – A cobweb of natural gas gathering lines forming under the subsurface in the Town of Smyrna could become dangerous in the future if left unmarked and unknown.

Town Supervisor James Bays called attention to the pending hazard at Monday’s meeting of the Chenango County Board of Supervisors. His town board will take a closer look at the growing maze during an executive session tonight where representatives from Norse Energy Inc. will be on hand to display their maps and define specific locations.

The Norwegian-based firm is currently drilling wells and producing gas from the Herkimer Sandstone in northern Chenango County. Bays said Norse also planned to share the information with the fire departments in the region.

Chenango County Attorney Richard W. Breslin and EMS Director Matt Beckwith told lawmakers in December that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security prohibits public disclosure of natural gas pipeline locations. Providing the information to the public is considered a high security risk because it could result in it landing in the hands of terrorists, they said.

Beckwith said his office has access to the maps and has “a good working relationship” with Norse when details regarding safety and security are needed.

Several members of the board aren’t satisfied with the legal block, however. Town of New Berlin Supervisor Ross Iannello has referred the matter to the county’s Safety & Rules Committee, attesting that the maps are needed as a matter of safety for town highway departments doing work along roadways and in ditches. The committee is scheduled to meet Jan. 19 in the Chairman’s Boardroom in the County Office Building in Norwich.

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