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Residents voice concern as National Fuel's forum approaches

Fri, Jan 8th 2016 01:35 pm

By Lauren Zaepfel

Tribune Editor

Several residents at the Wheatfield Town Board meeting Monday expressed their concerns about the possible dispersion of harmful emissions from National Fuel's proposed dehydration facility. They will have an opportunity to speak directly with National Fuel representatives during a forum from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, at the Wheatfield Community Center.

"National Fuel representatives will be on hand, as well as third-party experts, to discuss the design, operation and purpose of the dehy facility, and the experts can discuss air quality standards, permitting, regulatory standards and emissions controls," National Fuel spokesperson Karen Merkel said Tuesday. Reservations are required to attend and can be made by emailing [email protected].

Many residents questioned how National Fuel's planned public information forum on the dehydration unit, as part of the Northern Access 2016 Project, would be promoted throughout the community.

Wheatfield Action Team member Jennifer Wozniak said she, along with a team of residents, plan to distribute fliers promoting the forum in areas around Wheatfield from Thursday to Sunday. Drop-off locations include Sy Road, Ferchen Street, Witmer Road and two developments off Witmer Road.

Wozniak said fliers also have been distributed near Lancelot Drive, the Summit Park Mall and at local libraries. She said she hopes to have volunteers distribute on Jagow Road and River Road as well. The flier has also been posed on the Wheatfield Action Team's Facebook page.

"It is not a perfect system, but we are trying to get this information into people's hands ASAP," Wozniak said. "I feel it is important to notify residents because this is something that will impact everyone in our community. We deserve to know what is being pumped into the air and what dangers lurk in our backyards."

Also during Monday night's meeting, Councilman Larry L. Helwig said National Fuel has invited Town Board members, Planning Board members and land owners within a half-mile radius of the proposed Liberty Drive site to tour an existing dehydration facility. The site is located at 5186 Junction Road in the Town of Cambria and is operated by Tennessee Gas/Kinder Morgan.

Merkel said National Fuel arranged the tour in an attempt to "educate people on what a dehydration facility is, how it is designed, and, even more important, what it is not."

Also, Merkel said the dehydration facility in Cambria is the closest representation of the proposed Wheatfield unit in design and operation within the area.

Residents at Monday night's town board meeting asked why residents only living within a half-mile radius were able to partake in the tour. Many said it should be open to all residents concerned.

"As this is not a National Fuel facility, we appreciate the fact that Tennessee Gas is making its facility available to us on a limited basis, as it is a fully operational site," Merkel said. "We do not have the latitude to have general public tours to all interested parties, as this is not our facility. We were able to provide compressor station tours as we designed, own and operate those facilities."

More information on the proposed dehydration unit can be found at www.nationalfuelgas.com/Supply/NorthernAccess2016 and http://wheatfield.ny.us/308/National-Fuel.

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