Proposed Compressor Plant Near Wilkes-Barre Criticized

Residents gathered in West Wyoming (Luzerne County), PA to hear about plans from UGI Energy Services, subsidiary of UGI Utilities, to build a natural gas compressor plant in the township. The compressor plant will help bring Marcellus Shale gas through a new 28-mile pipeline UGI is building from Wyoming County to Luzerne County. Getting shale gas to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area will lead to a 40 percent reduction in natural gas bills for customers over the next four years, according to UGI.

But the compressor plant is not without its critics…

Matt Walker, a “community outreach coordinator” for the anti-drilling Clean Air Council in Philadelphia (more than two hours away from where the compressor will be located) criticized the project:

Walker said compressor stations can discharge methane, nitrous oxide and hazardous air pollutants and volatile organic compounds including formaldehyde and toluene, all of which from the engines and from leaks.

Walker said health effects from the pollutants can range from eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches and nausea to liver, kidney and central nervous system damage. Exposure has higher impacts on people within half a mile of the station, he said.*

Also present at the meeting to criticize the compressor project was Dr. Thomas Jiunta, from the anti-drilling Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, who said:

…the pollutants will affect more than a half-mile radius since they will accumulate in the valley due to inversion. Inversion is common in regions with mountains and valleys – warm air above doesn’t mix with the cool air below, trapping pollution.*

UGI representative Lillian Harris was at the meeting and said:

The location was selected because it would cause minimal disruption to the community…

"I can tell you the closest home to the compressor station site is half a mile," she said.

The noise impact from the 4,700-horsepower engines will be negligible, construction will create jobs, and the design and construction standards will be more stringent than government requirements.*

Construction is due to begin in spring 2013 and the compressor is due to be online by August of 2013.

*Wilkes-Barre (PA) The Citizens’ Voice (May 24, 2012) – UGI officials present West Wyoming compressor plan