Linda and Bob Lewis didn’t sign up to be part of Susquehanna County’s natural gas play but the industry is coming to them anyway.
The Lathrop Twp. property owners live along Rt. 2002, outside of Hop Bottom, where Chief Gathering is constructing a 12-inch pipeline headed to a nearby compressor station.
The pipeline construction is taking place not only on private property but also along the PennDOT right-of-way.
And it’s the construction along the road that has Linda Lewis alarmed.
“They’re going right through the yard,” said Mrs. Lewis. “I’m so upset about it. PennDOT has given out permits to run the pipeline through the right-of-way and they say there is nothing we can do about it.”
PennDOT spokesperson Karen Dussinger confirmed that the state agency granted the gas company permission to install the pipe in its right-of-way.
Kristi Gittins, Vice President Industry & Public Affairs for Chief Oil and Gas said, “Our goal is to efficiently develop the natural resources with the least impact to the environment. Using the existing road right-of-way for a pipeline preserves the natural environment and is typically the route most desired by any community for that reason.”
Dussinger said the right-of-way varies from place to place and could be 25 feet, 50 feet or something else from the center line of the road.
“Property owners often believe they own the land right up to the road itself, but that isn’t so,” said Dussinger.
She explained the right-of-way is an easement the state give the Department of Transportation in order to maintain the roads.
Dussinger said, “People choose to maintain the right-of-way which borders their property as a means of keeping up the appearance of that property.”
Lewis disagrees. “It’s disgusting to think you own property and the state can give (gas companies) a right-of-way to go through the front of your property.”
But Lewis is not just concerned about the pending construction in her front yard; she’s concerned with the pipeline itself.
“I don’t know how they can go so close to homes with a 12-inch pipeline,” she said. “If that thing blows, we’re off the map.”
Lewis said she has known about the pipeline coming through the area since January but just recently found out it would be constructed along the side of the road she lives on.
She said she had tried to contact Chief Oil and Gas for months but had not yet had a returned call.
Department of Environmental Planning, Bureau of Oil and Gas spokesperson Dan Spadoni said the agency requires erosion and sediment control plans along proposed pipeline routes. He said a storm water discharge plan may also be required on pipeline projects.
DEP would also require a construction and encroachment permit if the pipeline was going to cross any streams or impact a wetlands area.
However, according to Spadoni, DEP does not regulate the material and construction standards used for pipe itself or the depths the pipeline has to be laid below the ground.
“It’s scary to have a 12-inch pipeline right out in front of your home. That’s a lot of pressure,” said Lewis.