Proposed gas pipeline route

Columbia Gas is proposing a parallel pipeline, shown in blue, that will cross part of Fallston. (Columbia Gas of Maryland / May 20, 2013)

Fallston-area residents can make their voices heard on a proposed natural gas pipeline extension – slated to go through part of their community – during a public hearing Tuesday night.

The hearing will be held in the cafeteria of Fallston High School, 2301 Carrs Mill Road, and begins with a "poster session" at 6 p.m.

During the poster session, members of the public can view displays and speak with representatives of the applicant, Columbia Gas Transmission of Charleston, W. Va. and its parent company, NiSource Gas Transmission & Storage of Merrillville, Ind.

Representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Department of the Environment will also be on hand.

The public hearing portion will begin at 7 p.m.

Chevalier Mayes, communications manager for the Columbia Pipeline Group of Houston, which is Columbia Gas Transmission's direct parent and part of NiSource, said Columbia Gas Transmission filed its application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last October to build the pipeline extension.

The company plans to build a 21.1-mile "MB" pipeline roughly parallel to its existing "MA" pipeline between Baltimore and Harford counties. The line would be built between the Owings Mills Metering and Regulating Station and the Rutledge Compressor Station close to the Woodsbrook community in Fallston.

"This single-feed status of Line MA leaves individuals receiving service from this pipeline susceptible to a prolonged gas outage if service is interrupted," company officials stated in their FERC filings.

The second line is necessary to "mitigate the significant risk of prolonged outage to this densely populated area," the filing continued.

Construction of the pipeline is expected to temporarily disturb wetland areas and waterways in both counties, and any project with the potential to disturb wetlands and waterways must receive the blessing of the Corps of Engineers.

The company must also obtain a Section 401 Water Quality Certification from the state's Department of the Environment before proceeding, to be in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act, according to a public notice posted on the website of the Corps of Engineers' Baltimore District.

Several public hearings and community meetings were held last spring and summer regarding the pipeline – many local residents were concerned about the impacts to property values, the environment and the safety of the community.

Residents expressed fears last year of a potential repeat of an incident in 2005, when fuel leaked from a former Exxon station at Upper Cross Roads and contaminated local wells with the additive MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether).

Columbia officials adjusted part of the Harford County route of the pipeline last summer, and presented the adjustment during a community meeting in August. The new route would go through part of the Woodsbrook community, a plan which angered Woodsbrook residents.

"We are opposed to the project going through out community, due to the fact that it involves neighbors' wells and septic systems," Zonda Landis, president of the Woodsbrook Community Association, said Monday.

Landis said her group has proposed an alternate route through state-owned rights of way along Route 152.