Opponents of the controversial West Rockhill compressor station are accusing a neighboring township of closing the door on the facility next door.
Richland Township supervisors endorsed a resolution opposing the facility in early 2019 but have not comprehensively addressed the issue since then or joined West Rockhill in its legal battle to block the facility, a key component of the proposed Adelphia Gateway pipeline.
While the actual compressor station is not in the township, a driveway out of the facility on to Rich Hill Road does pass through Richland. Addressing a Zoom meeting on the current state of the project last Wednesday, West Rockhill Supervisor Jim Miller expressed frustration.
“We have spent over $200,000 and we’re still putting in money, and I don’t think Richland has put a penny in. “None of it is in Richland Township, but it affects the people in Richland.”
Other participants at the meeting also complained about Richland’s attitude. “I went to their meetings; they had absolutely no interest in dealing with the compressor station,” said Christine Shelly, who lives less than a mile from the facility. Quakertown Community School Board member Dave Ochmanowicz, who has expressed concern about the facility’s proximity to Trumbauersville Elementary School, said he experienced something similar in his encounters and was told, “Not our problem, can’t do anything about it.”
An anonymous township newsletter article from the fall of 2018 paints a benign picture of the project, assuring residents that there will be “minimal construction and impact to the community.”
“Anybody who read that bulletin would be completely unconcerned,” remarked Shelly.
Last week, Adelphia sought permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee to begin work on the pipeline by Sept. 25 despite outstanding permits. And according to the meeting, the release of residual natural gas, or venting, was occurring at the compressor station site last week.
Both West Rockhill and a grassroots group, Citizens for Clean Air, are contesting the clean air permit issued for the facility in Commonwealth Court, with arguments set to begin this week. Opponents claim the facility will release a daily cocktail of nitrogen oxide and other gases that are detrimental to people’s health as well as to the surrounding environment.
Meeting panelists also included County Commissioner Bob Harvie; U.S. House candidate Christina Finello; state House candidate Robyn Colajezzi, who is challenging incumbent Craig Staats in the 145th District; a representative from Springfield Township’s Environmental Advisory Committee; and a lawyer for the Clean Air Council. There were no representatives from Richland Township.