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Natural Gas Infrastructure Health Risks Discussed at Franklin Environmental Forum

Pediatrician and Anti-fracking Advocate Spoke on Risks of Proposed Pipeline
Health effects
A scar slide: Health effects of living near a compressor station Facebook

SOMERSET, NJ—Dr. Curtis Nordgaard, a pediatrician and researcher from Massachusetts, discussed the health risks of building a compressor station in Franklin on March 18

Nordgaard's presentation also focused on the health risks of additional pipelines being built and proposed in central Jersey.

Dr. Curtis Nordgaard works to stop proposed natural gas pipeline expansions in Massachusetts and co-founded Massachusetts Health Care Providers against "fracked gas," the byproduct of a controversial method of drilling.

He now shares what he knows about compressor stations with communities like Franklin, where Transco is seeking to build one.

In his talk, Nordgaard clarified that there is little current research that examines compressor stations' direct impact on health.

His remarks instead focused on the research regarding air pollution emitted by the stations, and research on what effect those air pollutants can have on human health.

Compressor stations release air pollution when they burn gas, leak gas, or purposely vent gas in so-called "blowdowns."

They produce waste, filtered out from the gas in the pipelines into a storage container, which must also be vented to reduce pressure.

Nordgaard mainly discussed Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP's), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's), ozone, and radon, which could turn into radioactive lead.

He said he could not discuss air pollution at the proposed compressor station in Franklin, because the company seeking to build the station and an associated pipeline had not yet released relevant data.

Activists have begun to target the pipeline itself, which would also run through parts of Middlesex County.  They plan to speak out at the April 20 meeting of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, which is taking place at 7pm on the first floor of the county administration building at 75 Bayard Street in New Brunswick.

Dr. Nordgaard said a comprehensive, independent health risk assessment could provide some of the missing health information. He complemented the Franklin Township Board of Health for requesting one.

He compared the proposed compressor station in Franklin to a proposal that was later withdrawn for a compressor station in Massachusetts.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) claim to “balance the interest of human health and polluting industry.”

Nordgaard cited literature that showed public health effects of air pollution levels under those standards.

One study showed that, even without violating the EPA standards, after a particularly bad day, the risk of stroke to the public could increase by 40%.

In sum, the research cited suggests living near a compressor station increases total risk of non-accidental death.

Now, the various organizations involved including Residents Against Compressor Station 106, Rethink Energry, Central Jersey Safe Energy Coalition have been urging people to file petitions with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with their concerns and contact their elected officials about the project.