Western Md. Residents On Potomac Pipeline Plans: ‘Disaster Waiting To Happen’

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A proposed pipeline under the Potomac continues to stir up controversy. Dozens of activists took to the waters near Sharpsburg, and called for the project to be shut down before it even starts.

WJZ’s Rick Ritter has a closer look at the concerns.

The project would eventually carry gas produced by fracking, which is a major concern for residents in Washington County. They’re now calling for Governor Hogan to reject the project.

There was a powerful showing in western Maryland on Friday, with voices that are begging to be heard.

“It’s a recipe for disaster,” says Brooke Harper, Maryland D.C. Policy Director, of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

“It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” says a Western Maryland resident.

A proposed pipeline under the Potomac continues to draw heavy scrutiny.

“Why risk it? Why risk the drinking water of millions of folks?” says Harper.

The 3.5-mile underground natural gas pipeline would cross far below the Potomac River, providing a critical link between gas handlers in Pennsylvania, and manufacturers in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle.

A group called the “Kayaktivists” are concerned about the carrying gas produced by fracking, which is something state lawmakers voted to ban.

The concerns persist on what contamination the pipe line could lead to.

“We’re going to put something that is potentially a little riskier from a pipeline, going under the river, which is important for our water supply. What is the benefit?” says Maryland State Senator Rich Madaleno.

The company behind the project, TransCanada has years of experience of building pipelines in the area. They released a statement saying in part:

They released a statement saying:

“This proposed project is critical for the continued economic growth of West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle and the surrounding region, including Western Maryland. We will pull from our 60-plus year history in the region to construct and operate this line in a safe and environmentally conscious manner.

We will construct this pipeline more than 100 feet below the bottom of the Potomac River. This means we will not impact the drinking water nor recreational use of the river in any way. It’s also important to note that we already operate 12 existing Potomac River natural gas pipeline crossings in Maryland and have done so for decades. We work hard to ensure that we are a good neighbor in these communities.”

But residents say their concerns are real. They’re urging those behind the project to explore another route.

“Are you ensuring this pipeline for liability forever? Because it’s in the ground forever,” says a Western Maryland resident.

The state will host a public hearing in the coming months to gather more input before making a decision.

TransCanada already operates more than 50,000 miles of natural gas pipeline, which is one of North America’s largest gas networks.

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