Environment

Natural gas leak at Robeson County compressor station adds to anxiety over Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Prospect, North Carolina is near NC Highway 710, a major route to and from Pembroke. Piedmont Natural Gas has a compressor station there.

A compressor station in the town of Prospect in Robeson County leaked natural gas for more than an hour early yesterday morning, before repair crews could stop it. That accident, although minor, underscores the safety concerns voiced by Atlantic Coast Pipeline opponents.

The Robesonian first reported the story today. The paper quoted Talford Dial, who lives about 400 yards from the compressor station, as saying it sounded like a “747 taking off,” even though a woods buffers his home from the site.

A malfunctioning valve caused the leak. The paper quoted Jennifer Sharpe, a communications consultant with Piedmont Natural Gas, as saying, “It was never an unsafe situation.” The utility did not call local emergency crews.

Prospect, a town of 690 people in Robeson County, is along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline route. Duke Energy and Dominion Energy, the major co-owners of the $5.5 billion project, plan to build a metering and regulating station there. (Piedmont Natural Gas also owns a small portion of the ACP.)

Prospect is about a mile and a half northwest of the pipeline’s blast zone, an area where people would likely be injured or die in the event of a natural gas explosion. From the pipeline’s radius, the blast zone is 943 feet, the evacuation zone is 3,071 feet, more than a half-mile.

Robin Goins, a member of the Lumbee tribe in Robeson County and ACP opponent, released a statement today: “This is in the middle of an inhabited community on a well-traveled highway. It is not in an isolated, rural area.”

A a public hearing last week on a proposed compressor station in Northampton County, supporters of the ACP emphasized its safety, while opponents disputed those claims to state environmental officials. For example, the emissions limits — of methane, formaldehyde and other compounds — are averages, said Therese Vick of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. That method of measuring fails to capture the real scope of the pollution, she said, because the emissions levels fluctuate.

As for the leaks, “Every compressor station has releases,” said Tom Clark. He noted that under the state’s proposed air quality permit, the utilities wouldn’t have to report excessive emissions to environmental regulators if the leak lasted less than four hours. “They can even hold off until the next business day. That’s uncalled for.”

2 Comments


  1. […] that has been described by a landowner who lives near a compressor station as equivalent to a “747 taking off.”  The population within one mile of the proposed facility – an area commonly referred to in […]

  2. april keating

    November 28, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    Actually, the blast radius on a 42″ pipe at 1440 psi is at least 1800 square feet. This comes from data gathered by Bill Huston that shows that PHMSA figures are way under actual numbers in actual explosions. The evacuation zone is 2 miles. This can be confirmed by a phone call to Homeland Security – if they will take your call. Here is the link to Huston’s work: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Yz5Xuuoy1032X7tAC1TUEPeCMD6NykDvmUCvw-Qqaa0/edit#gid=0

Check Also

GenX contamination in private wells never seems to end; 115 well owners now on bottled water

Thirty more households near the Chemours Fayetteville Works ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

The UNC Board of Governors is holding its last meeting of 2017 Friday, where the latest of its many [...]

Just south of Candler off the Pisgah Highway is a lovely piece of property on Little Piney Mountain [...]

Veteran North Carolina education policy expert Kris Nordstrom has authored a new and vitally importa [...]

When Joni Robbins, a section chief in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, closes bidding next [...]

“All speech is free, but some speech is more free than others.” This seems to be the motto of the cu [...]

Trumpists prepare to raze another vital common good law It’s hard to keep up these days with the flo [...]

The post That’s how ‘Humbug’ is done appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

The solid citizens of Johnston County, N.C. – in a fateful quirk of geography – for several years ha [...]

Featured | Special Projects

NC Budget 2017
The maze of the NC Budget is complex. Follow the stories to follow the money.
Read more


NC Redistricting 2017
New map, new districts, new lawmakers. Here’s what you need to know about gerrymandering in NC.
Read more