Planned expansion of compressor station raises health concerns

Wantage. The Wantage mayor says Tennessee Gas does not need township approval for the expansion, which will be three times the size of its compressor station in Orange County, N.Y.

| 02 Feb 2021 | 02:43

Environmentalists and a local resident urged the Wantage Township Committee to oppose the expansion of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline compressor planned for the town. It will be located off Libertyville road, between Hickory and Mountainview.

At the committee’s Jan. 28 meeting, Mayor William Gaechter said the Tennessee Gas Co. does not need site plan approval from Wantage Township to upgrade the compressor station or to expand its natural gas pipeline.

“That’s not to say you shouldn’t be out there letting people know what your feelings are,” said Glenn Kienz, the township attorney.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said the expansion will make the Wantage compressor station one of the largest in New Jersey, with tremendous environmental impacts.

“The initial project was bad 10 years ago, and now they’re making it worse,” Tittel said.

Greg Gorman of Empower New Jersey said environmental groups believe the pipeline will “lock in our dependency on greenhouse gas production.” He said methane fracked in Pennsylvania will be pushed through 60-year-old pipes and into New York.

“New York doesn’t want this gas,” Tittel said.

Tittel said the gas will be propelled through the pipeline by a “big jet engine.” If it gets too pressurized, he said, gas would have to be released, a process called “blowdown.”

He said the pipeline can raise serious safety hazards, and that the club will be addressing permits and other matters.

Former Wyckoff Mayor Brian Scanlan said even if Wantage Township was getting $23,000 in tax revenue from the compressor station, the township keeps only about 15 percent, as the rest goes to Sussex County and local schools.

“Even if it went up substantially, I think you’re going to see when a large industrial project goes up, residential values around that property decline,” Scanlan said. “Realtors will be forced to disclose when everyone tries to sell out there that there is a compressor station and what the risks are.”

Christine Dunbar, a retired environmental science teacher, said a compressor station in Minisink, N.Y., about 20 miles from Wantage, has affected the health of residents, giving them nosebleeds, headaches, and other health problems. She said a family had to “abandon their home and is now living in the Midwest.”

Township resident Alison Orci said she lives about 1.5 miles from the site of the Wantage station and was “horrified to hear” it was going to be three times the size of the Minisink station.

“The one in Orange County is a monstrosity,” Orci said. “What effect will it have on our town and the value of my home?”

Virtual town hall

Food & Water Watch held a virtual town hall on Thursday, Feb. 4, to discuss the threat of increased air and sound pollution, and detrimental health effects, posed by the station, and how to fight it. To join the virtual town hall, RSVP at

“The Murphy administration has made some moves that help push us in the right direction,” says a statement by Food & Water Watch. “But that progress would be undermined by a dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuel expansion project that is only being built to serve an out of state pipeline company and a politically connected utility in New York.”

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“The one in Orange County is a monstrosity. What effect will it have on our town and the value of my home?” Alison Orci