County Commission hears concerns about pipeline

ALBANY — One of the Dougherty County property owners who would be impacted by the proposed Sabal Trail Transmission natural gas pipeline scheduled to deliver 1 billion cubic feet of gas per day to meet Florida’s growing power needs asked the Dougherty County Commission Monday to help secure a less intrusive route for the pipeline.

Dinorah Hall told commissioners at their business session that the proposed $3 billion pipeline would pose danger to the environment and to residents in the path of the 465-mile project.

“It is within your authority to advocate citizens’ safety first by proposing an alternate site for the large, industrial compression station that will be used to push the gas through the pipeline and an alternate route away from more heavily populated areas,” Hall said. “Just imagine the catastrophic impact a pipeline disaster could have on our natural resources such as the Flint River and our underground aquifer.”

Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard encouraged Hall and other impacted landowners to attend the commission’s work session Monday to discuss their concerns with project representatives.

“It is very, very important that they meet every legal and environmental requirement on this project,” Sinyard said of Houston-based Spectra Energy Corp., which is building the pipeline to supply gas to Florida Power & Light. “We expect them to use professional, non-bullying dialogue when talking with our citizens, and we’re going to do everything we can to see that this project negatively impacts the least number of citizens.”

District 4 Commissioner Ewell Lyle asked Hall if she and others who oppose the pipeline would support an alternate route that had less of an impact on more populated areas.

When Hall said the group understood that they could not stop the project, Lyle said, “If there’s ever been an issue this commission should endorse, this (monitoring the pipeline) is it. It’s supposed to go through a large part of our county, and with 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas going through it every day, it’s clearly not just a local issue. It’s a Southeast issue.”

Sinyard said that in addition to meeting with the County Commission next week to discuss the pipeline project, Sabal Trail officials would hold public hearings for stakeholders starting in early October.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the commission accepted an amendment to the county retiree group health plan and approved an alcohol license for Wynfield Plantation.