New York Leaders Seek Review of Spectra Gas Pipeline Expansion

New York policy makers called for a new review on Tuesday of Spectra Energy Corp.’s Algonquin pipeline expansion, saying federal regulators failed to properly assess the risks before the project was approved.

New York state assemblymen David Buchwald and Sandy Galef, both Democrats, said in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that Spectra’s proposal to increase capacity on the gas line wasn’t “properly vetted” by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. They requested an independent risk analysis.

At issue is the natural gas pipeline’s proximity to the Entergy Corp.’s Indian Point reactor, less than 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of New York City. Galef and Buchwald said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday that the ramifications of the pipeline rupturing near the nuclear plant have yet to be thoroughly studied.

“I am convinced that an outside agency, like the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. or the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration that collects and compiles information on gas line ruptures nationwide, would be the better ones to conduct a realistic risk assessment,” Galef said in the statement. “FERC and NRC are too close to the companies that would benefit from an easy path for the pipeline to be laid.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved Spectra’s application to expand the capacity of its Algonquin pipeline in the Northeast in March. The Algonquin Incremental project will add 342,000 dekatherms a day of capacity to New England and is scheduled to be completed in November 2016, easing a bottleneck for the glut of gas trapped in the Marcellus shale of the eastern U.S.

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