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Ohio Utica Shale

Overflow crowd voices concerns about Sunoco Logistics pipelines

By Bob Downing Published: January 16, 2014

RAVENNA: An overflow crowd of 125 people today filled two rooms for a public meeting arranged by the Portage County commissioners on Sunoco Logistics Partners LP and its pipeline projects.

Forty-five people filled the commissioners’ seventh-floor meeting room and another 80 watched what was billed as an educational meeting on pipelines on the first floor via an audio-only hookup — with people spilling into hallways in the county’s Administration Building on two floors.

The 97-minute meeting included a presentation by Sunoco Logistics officials, plus the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The two pipelines are:

•An east-to-west pipeline that crosses Portage County and runs through the Akron area carrying liquid ethane from Utica shale wells. It began operations last December.

•A west-to-east pipeline not yet built to carry gasoline and diesel from Ohio refineries to eastern Ohio and Pittsburgh.

The two pipelines would share the same right-of-way across southern Portage County.

More than 30 residents voiced comments and concerns about the pipelines. Each was limited to one minute speaking by the county commissioners.

The meeting was called "very informative" by Portage County Commissioner Kathleen Chandler.

She mildly chided Sunoco Logistics officials for not participating in such a meeting to inform the public earlier.

The meeting, one of the first pipeline meetings in the Akron-Canton area, was triggered in part by complaints to the Portage County commissioners by landowners, Chandler said.

Landowners are unhappy that landmen working for a contractor hired by Sunoco Logistics have threatened to take the needed land via eminent domain, she said.

The company has not used eminent domain to acquire the needed land but it could, although it is a means of last resort, said Sunoco Logistics spokesman Joe McGinn.

He asked anyone with complaints to lodge them with the company’s hotline at 855-430-4491.

Neighbors were also troubled by the fact the pipeline can carry numerous products, Chandler said. People need to aware of that fact, she said.

Cathy Doak of Randolph Township said she has "serious concerns" about ethane.

If the event of a leak of spill, neighbors have been told not to start vehicles, not to switch on lights and not ring doorbells because those actions could produce a spark and trigger a major explosion, she said.

Chris Tokarcik of Suffield Township said he has safety concerns, worries about property values being impacted by proximity to pipelines and is concerned about pipeline impacts on home insurance.

Ron Ettling of Hiram questioned how pipeline construction would impact streams and wetlands, and George Sosebee of Shalersville Township asked for more transparency from pipeline companies on their activities.

Mary Greer of Shalersville Township encouraged Sunoco Logistics to fund needed community projects in Portage County. Debbie Olson of Mantua said the company should provide a map of the pipeline routes for police and fire departments. The company agreed to do so.

Ted Voneida of Kent called pipeline construction to be "a highly disruptive process." He added, "We will all suffer."

McGinn tried to answer questions and calm concerns. The pipeline projects, he said, have won needed federal and state approvals. Pipelines are the safest way to transport many materials, he said. He promised to provide the county commissioners with answers to questions.

The Mariner West Pipeline runs 350 miles from Houston, Pa., to Sarnia, Ontario, and is capable of handling 50,000 barrels a day. The flow in the existing pipeline was reversed.

In the Akron area, the pipeline crosses southern Portage County, runs from Mogadore to Hudson, then heads west through Summit and Medina counties. It measures 8 inches in diameter from the Canadian border to Hudson and 10 inches from Hudson to Vanport, Pa.

The Allegheny Access Pipeline will carry refined petroleum from Fostoria through the Akron area to Pittsburgh.

It will run along a different path from Fostoria to Akron, passing under northern Wayne and southern Summit counties en route to Mogadore. Once there, the pipeline will share the same right-of-way with the ethane pipeline.

The Allegheny Access Pipeline was originally scheduled to be in service by June.

The pipeline, from 10 to 12 inches in diameter at various points, will move up to 85,000 barrels of petroleum a day.

The pipeline will be get minor rerouting in a few areas. That includes a new 4.3-mile route around Mogadore Reservoir in Suffield Township.

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