Milford pipeline will pass near homes

MILFORD – While Amherst is working to persuade Kinder Morgan to move the route for its planned natural gas pipeline route away from residential areas as much as possible, the more-densely populated Milford doesn’t seem to have that option.

At a meeting of the Milford Pipeline Task Force last week members talked about requesting adjustments to the pipeline that would protect residents in nearby homes in the event of an accident.

And Jeff Wells, a resident of the Federal Point area – a development between Federal Hill and Ponemah Hill roads – told the task force the town should ask that it be rerouted away from residential areas, so people don’t have to spend “every second for the rest of their lives worrying about their family’s safety.” And there are 11 families living in a cul-de-sac in that area, he said, and they would be trapped in the event of an emergency.

But task force Chairman Steve Duncanson told him that anywhere the pipeline would go in Milford it would be near homes.

The task force is preparing a report for selectmen, which each member investigating a different topic.

One member, Town Administrator Mark Bender, is investigating construction impacts, and last week he said the town should ask for added protections at all road and railroad crossing where construction could compromise the pipeline, plus corrosion protection systems, and, in the Federal Point area, ask Kinder Morgan to make it a Class 3 location, which means thicker pipes and different kinds of valves and valves closer together.

“If we can’t kill it, we’ve got to do what we can to protect it,” Bender said.

Bender also thinks the town should ask Kinder Morgan to replace the mature trees that will come down with fast-growing varieties “to get the buffer back up.”

Most of the residents who would be affected live in the Federal Point area, and Wells noted that in California there was a recent explosion that severely injured 12 people. The accident reportedly occurred when a county worker was operating a front loader.

Andy Hughes of the town Conservation Commission is looking into short- and long-term environmental impacts, and he said there would be one positive effect – during the 30 to 50 years while the trees slowly grow back the area will provide good wildlife habitat. In the short-term there should be no tree-cutting during the bird breeding season, he said, from the beginning of April to the end of July, and Kinder Morgan should be required to post bonds to cover damage to residential wells.

Task force members also talked about the need for more regional energy and New Hampshire’s obligations as part of a New England energy coalition.

The five governors agreed to try to pass the necessary laws that would pave the way for interstate projects that would provide more energy and lower costs.

Except for the $438,000 in taxes that would be paid for a 36-inch pipeline, revenue that would be shared by the town and school district, task force members agreed they can only speculate about the local economic impact.

Bender noted that residents served by Liberty Utilities could ultimately pay less for natural gas as a result of added supplies, but there is no indication that Milford will receive any of the additional gas that would come through the new pipeline.

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