By Mike Pidanick
National Fuel's plan to build a gas dehydration station on Liberty Drive was in focus again last week as residents of Wheatfield expressed concerns to the company's representatives, who attempted to explain the latest on the project.
The dehydration station is part of the $455 million Northern Access Pipeline project, which involves pumping natural gas from Pennsylvania to Canada.
The station has been a controversial topic from the get-go and residents remained concerned at Wednesday's information meeting at the Wheatfield Town Hall.
Safety continues to be a major concern for Wheatfield residents, despite attempts from National Fuel's representatives to ease those worries.
"There is a possibility, being that it's made by human hands, it can fail," Lancelot Drive resident Mike Alianello said. "My concern is, 2,000 feet away from me, the prevailing wind blows by the station. If that fails, and your fail-safes do not catch it, all those emissions will be blowing right over my house. "
He added, "Planes aren't supposed to fall out of the sky, but they do."
National Fuel reps presented the latest plans for the dehydration station, which were updated to include the concerns of Wheatfield officials and representatives. The group was led by Adam Walters, an attorney with Phillips Lytle LLP representing National Fuel.
"The facility has been designed (so) that - even with the possibility of human error - it is absolutely as safe as possible," Walters said.
A similar plant is located in Elma that was built in the 1950s. Walters used that plant as an example to ease the concerns of Wheatfield residents that range from pollution to noise to health and more.
"It was the only thing on that road when it was built," he said. "Since we built the facility, subdivisions have popped up ... and I'm talking fairly expensive homes adjacent to a compressor station. And there have been no issues, no problems, no complaints. That is how we operate our facilities; they're designed for safety."
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently reviewed National Fuel's dehydrator and said it would have no impact on the environment.
A National Fuel flier sent to residents criticizing actions from Assemblyman John Ceretto also brought the ire of several of those who spoke during the one-hour time slot allotted to community members at the meeting.
"You guys are saying you want to be great neighbors to us and we get that, but that letter you sent out, that was not cool," said Liberty Drive resident Jennifer Wozniak, who has been vocal on the subject from the start. "He was doing what he was elected for. That's not being a good neighbor. This just puts a really bad taste in my mouth. It almost feels like you're bullying our politicians."