Water Walk for Life walks in opposition to Pilgrim Pipeline

UNION COUNTY, NJ — In opposition to the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline that would impact approximately 10 municipalities in Union County and 44 statewide, the Coalition Against the Pilgrim Pipeline — a coalition of environmental groups, leaders and activists — along with New Jersey Peace Action and Union County residents staged a walk in protest of the pipeline.

The project, proposed in 2014 by Pilgrim Pipelines Holdings LLC, would use two parallel, bi-directional pipelines, each 178 miles long, and would carry refined products such as gasoline, diesel, kerosene, aviation fuel and home heating oil from New Jersey refineries and storage facilities to points north.

The pipeline would carry crude oil to the south, from storage facilities in Albany to the Bayway Refinery in Linden.

Although the company has had preliminary contact with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, it has made no filings yet, according to the DEP. The review process will begin sometime after permit filings.

The Water Walk for Life staged a week-long, 90-mile protest walk from March 4 through March 11, with the walkers passing through the borough of Roselle, to highlight the proposed pipeline that would go through the city of Linden.

One of the leaders of the walk was Buddhist nun Jun-san Yasuda, who built the Grafton Peace Pagoda in Grafton, N.Y, which was constructed to serve as a monument to peace. Yasuda has traversed the country five times on foot to highlight her desire for peace.

The opening ceremony for the walk was at Waterfront Park in Carteret. The interfaith ceremony was led by indigenous leaders in the area.

The walk passed through Roselle on Saturday, March 4, with walkers being invited to attend a discussion about the pipeline, as well as a blessing for water at Morrow Memorial Church.

The walkers also walked through Split Rock Sweetwater Prayer Camp in Mahwah, which hosted a Tobacco Ceremony on March 7, followed by a potluck dinner and guest speakers at the Ramapough Lenape Community Center, also located in Mahwah.

Richard Lenihan, a Roselle resident, community activist and member of the CAPP who took part in the Water Walk for Life, told LocalSource that those who walked wanted to bring attention to the threat the proposed pipelines brings with it to the area.

“We wanted to highlight the preciousness of life,” Lenihan said in a phone call last week. “Water is life. When water is gone, life is gone. When you do a pipeline, that is a problem and this is something we want to call attention to.”

Lenihan, who said he has been involved with CAPP for more than two years and acts as an advocate and liaison on the pipeline issue, said the group of about 25 walkers followed a path in which the proposed pipeline would travel.

Union County towns that have passed ordinances opposing the pipeline include Berkeley Heights, Clark, Cranford, Fanwood, Linden, New Providence, Rahway, Roselle, Scotch Plains and Westfield.

Union County has also passed an ordinance opposing the pipeline.

Madelyn Hoffman, executive director of New Jersey Peace Action, a grassroots organization founded in 1957 in pursuit of peace, with national headquarters in Washington, D.C., told LocalSource the group was invited to participate in the walk.

“We were invited to participate because of the connection between protection of the water and some of the plans by corporations and governments to build pipelines to carry oil from one place to another,” Hoffman said in a phone call last week. “The connection goes to the fact that some of our wars are about access to control of oil resources in other parts of the world. Our reliance on oil is one of the things that propels us into war.”

Roselle Mayor Christine Dansereau told LocalSource she has been involved with Lenihan for a long time regarding the pipeline.

“We have put forth a resolution stating our condemnation of this pipeline, in solidarity with the other individuals throughout the county who have raised their voices against it,” Dansereau said in a March 9 email. “I have been involved with the information and education of this potentially deadly problem.”

Dansereau said the borough will be hosting a town-wide seminar and rally against the pipeline in the spring.