ROSELLE, NJ — Residents of the Borough of Roselle, as well as surrounding towns throughout Union County, are being invited to a public forum about the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline project.
The event, sponsored by Roselle Mayor Christine Dansereau and supported by the Food and Water Watch, the Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipeline, and 30 other New Jersey volunteer organizations, will discuss the impact of the two proposed parallel pipelines.
Residents of both Union and Middlesex counties are invited to join the forum, which will be held at 7 p.m. in Roselle Borough Hall on Chestnut Street.
The pipelines would cross more than 30 municipalities throughout five New Jersey counties, along with 25 municipalities throughout six New York counties,
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.
A map of proposed routes of the pipelines shows that towns impacted include Roselle, Linden, Cranford, Roselle Park, Rahway, Winfield, Clark, Scotch Plains, Westfield, Kenilworth, and Berkeley Heights, among others.
Municipalities throughout the state have passed resolutions in opposition to or placing restrictions on the pipeline, with several of them in Union County, including Roselle, Linden, Rahway, Clark, Cranford, Westfield, New Providence, Scotch Plains, Berkeley Heights and Fanwood.
According to Richard Lenihan and Arlene Murphy, Roselle activists and organizers of the forum, one of the issues to be discussed will be the issue of eminent domain.
Lenihan said the company has sought to enter properties by offering homeowners money for signing a courtesy permission to survey.
According to Paul Nathanson, spokesman for Pilgrim Pipeline LLC, the company has not offered homeowners money for permission to survey but has entered into mutual agreements with some property owners to purchase property to be used as staging areas.
“Some property owners have agreed to give us an option to purchase property for staging areas for construction, but we haven’t paid anything to access properties to do survey work,” Nathanson said in an April 4 email.
Although Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings LLC is a privately held company, it does not have standing as a public utility and does not have the power of eminent domain, according to Lenihan.
According to Nathanson, most of the proposed route is on existing rights of way.
According to the company’s website, “Pilgrim will be built almost exclusively along existing rights of way, minimizing disruption to citizens throughout the route while allowing for the most environmentally sound, safest and least disruptive approach to this project.”
Murphy told LocalSource that a host of issues will be discussed at the April 25 forum.
“The forum topics to be addressed will include the origin and status of Pilgrim’s applications in New Jersey and New York,” Murphy said in an April 4 email. “Data will be presented regarding oil pipeline safety and accidents, rights of property owners when requested for easements, and the effects of a pipeline easement on property values, mortgages, insurance, ecology, and a host of environmental and health considerations.”
Lenihan said that the Roselle mayor and council recently amended a resolution to prohibit the pipeline. A resolution limiting the pipeline was initially passed.
“The Roselle mayor and council have recently amended the borough’s Land Use Ordinance to prohibit such a pipeline from traversing the municipality,” Lenihan said. “The importance of towns placing such ordinances and supporting resolutions in more than 30 towns will be highlighted as a means of protecting citizens’ health, safety, and quality of life.”
Matt Smith, senior organizer for Food and Water Watch, an environmental-advocacy group based in New Brunswick, will also be presenting at the upcoming forum. The organization is a founding member of CAPP, and has assisted with the passage of resolutions against the pipelines throughout many municipalities in the state.
“We helped organize the 70-plus community organizations who make up the coalition, have held dozens of educational events in communities along the proposed path, and coordinated the successful passage over 40 resolutions of opposition to the pipeline, which includes every municipality along the proposed path of the pipelines through New Jersey,” Smith told LocalSource in an April 5 email.
Smith said that he will be informing local residents of the possible impact of the proposed pipelines.
“We will be educating residents on the impacts the pipeline would have on the residents whose homes are located along or near the proposed pipelines route,” Smith said. “These impacts include a long and disruptive construction process, the risk of a serious spill or explosion, and a potential decrease in their property value.”
According to Smith, information about rights and options will be shared with impacted landowners.
“We will discuss the ways in which people can effectively organize in their communities, and hold their elected representatives accountable to protect their health, safety and welfare over the profit motives of this private oil pipeline company,” Smith said.
Lenihan said that the delay in the company’s announcement of a timeline has led some residents to think that the pipeline project is dead.
“It is not,” Lenihan said. “Financing for it and planning go forward daily. New Jersey residents will not see any new supplies of cheaper gas or home heating oil from these Pilgrim pipelines, but would only bear the hazardous burden.”