While its plan to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on Sparrows Point is generating community opposition in Baltimore County, AES Corp is starting to talk with residents along the path of a proposed 87-mile pipeline from Dundalk to southern Pennsylvania.
In a series of "open house" meetings beginning this week in Pennsylvania, AES, a global power company based in Arlington, Va., will present its $400 million plan to build the terminal and pipeline.
On Monday, the company will hold a meeting in Dundalk, where residents have teamed up to oppose the project.
The meetings are part of a six-month pre-application process required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said Tamara Young-Allen, an agency spokeswoman.
However, the company began meeting informally with government officials and residents in eastern Baltimore County late last year.
"We are encouraging public participation," said Kent Morton, the Sparrows Point project manager for AES. "It's the better way to do things."
Under the company's plan, shipments of the super-chilled liquefied gas would arrive by tanker. The substance would be transformed into gas and pumped from the plant through a 28-inch-diameter pipeline to Pennsylvania, where it would be distributed to locations along the East Coast.
The proposed route for the pipeline would run about four miles north through the former Sparrows Point shipyard and steel mill property to Bethlehem Boulevard, and then follow BGE rights-of-way and railroad tracks parallel to Interstate 695 for about six miles. The route would follow overhead power lines for about nine miles before intersecting Interstate 95 close to Raphel Road near Harford County.
The pipeline would continue along the path of power lines for 13 miles northeast to the right-of-way for a Columbia Gas pipeline near the Susquehanna River. At that point, the route parallels the Columbia pipeline for about 54 miles to its terminus near Eagle, Pa., about 30 miles west of Philadelphia, according to Morton.
Ninety percent of the underground pipeline would be within rights-of-way for other utilities, he said.
"In certain areas, we may be trying to route the pipeline into fields or other unoccupied areas to try to stay away from the populated areas," said Morton.
The company has sent more than 1,700 letters to property owners within a half-mile on each side of the proposed pipeline, Morton said, notifying them of the project.
The public meetings in Pennsylvania (Downingtown last night and Oxford tonight) and in White Marsh and Bel Air will focus on the pipeline, while meetings in Dundalk and Pasadena are likely to focus more on the terminal, he said.
In addition to conducting meetings, the company is required to submit reports to FERC during the pre-application phase about potential effects on public health, safety, land use, water life and historic sites.
Some Dundalk community leaders say they'll be researching those same subjects.
"We have to give a counter presentation," said Dundalk activist Sharon Beasley. "We don't have staffs of attorneys. But we do have lawyers, doctors and other educated people in our community to research these topics. It's about us being a team."
The Sparrows Point facility would be less than two miles from the Turners Station neighborhood, where residents have said they fear an accident or terrorist attack on the facility or a tanker could wipe out the historic African-American community.
Some residents in Eastern Baltimore County, as well as recreational boaters, have said they worry about the possible effects on fish from dredging the channels to accommodate the tankers, usually the length of several football fields.
Elected officials, including Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr., and Baltimore County Council Chairman John A. Olszewski Sr., also oppose the proposal for Sparrows Point.
AES Corp. will hold the following public meetings:
Today, Oxford, Pa.: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Union Fire Hall, 315 Market St.
Tomorrow, White Marsh: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Hilton Hotel, 5015 Campbell Blvd.
Monday, Dundalk: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Ironworkers Apprentice Training Center, 2008 Merritt Ave.
May 3, Bel Air: 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Harford Community College, 401 Thomas Run Road.
May 4, Pasadena, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Northeast High School, 1121 Duvall Highway.
A community group opposed to the project will meet from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Baltimore County North Point Library, 1716 Merritt Blvd.