Milford will have pipeline taskforce

MILFORD – Selectmen decided Monday night that Milford, like Amherst and some of the other towns in the path of a planned natural gas pipeline, will form a task force.

The decision came after five homeowners from the Settlement Lane area of Federal Hill gave a detailed “tag-team” slide presentation, laying out their opposition to a 36-inch pipeline that would go through backyards, and in some cases, homes, as part of a plan from Kinder Morgan, an energy transmission company, to expand its pipeline.

The meeting was held in the Town Hall Auditorium, and there were about 60 people in the audience.

Of the four selectmen present, three of them said they are personally opposed to the pipeline plan.

Chairman Gary Daniels said he will wait to decide his position until after he attends the open house Kinder Morgan is holding in Milford next week to explain its planned expansion of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline.

Homeowner Jeff Wells said a pipeline would become a soft target for terrorists, a pipeline disaster would take out the electric power lines, that there are 134 homes in the area that would be within 1,000 feet of an “incineration zone” if the pipeline were to detonate.

Todd McCartney, the organizer of the opposition, said Kinder Morgan’s plan avoids churches and school, but not homes, and for Kinder Morgan, “it’s clear that a neighborhood of some 130 houses is not a concern.”

Other presenters attacked the company’s credibility, its attention to detail, its truthfulness and its safety record, saying the company was deceptive when it estimated the size of a proposed compression station in Mason.

The station would be about 15 times bigger – “one of the largest in the United States” one of the homeowners said – than the one shown during the company’s Jan. 5 presentation in Milford.

They also talked about noise and air pollution, potential threats to private wells and the danger from frost heaves and from electromagnetic charges under power lines, as well as the loss of trees that now screen their views of the power lines. They also said statements by Kinder Morgan about the use of herbicides has been contradictory.

Homeowner Eric Nickerson questioned the money Kinder Morgan said it would pay the towns and the number of permanent positions that would be created, saying they are part of “a whole trust issue.”

Kinder Morgan’s plan follows the electric power lines through 76 miles, beginning in Cheshire County, going through Mason, Milford, Amherst and Merrimack, Londonderry and Hudson until it heads south to Dracut, Mass.

Milford homeowners also questioned the need for the gas pipeline, saying none of the natural gas would be used in this area and would be exported through Canada to Europe and Asia.

Town Administrator Mark Bender told people that “facts, figures and details will win the day,” and he is meeting with other administrators on Jan. 20.

The homeowners’ presentation will be on the town website, officials said.

Several people in the audience got up to speak against the pipeline. After one man expressed pessimism about Milford’s ability to fight a company that makes huge contributions to Congressmen, Selectman Mike Putnam cited the success of the Market Basket boycott last summer.

“It’s going to take everyone in this room to push the federal government in the right direction,” he said.

Selectmen said they will finalize the task force’s charge at their next meeting.

Last week, about 50 Amherst residents attended their selectmen’s meeting on the Kinder Morgan pipeline and learned the town is forming a task force.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or
kcleveland@cabinet.com.