Watchung became the second community in New Jersey to pass a resolution opposing the Pilgrim Pipeline project on August 21, 2014. In addition to opposing the newly proposed infrastructure, the resolution calls for a moratorium on surveying and project planning within the municipality and for a thorough environmental review to be conducted to assess the project’s environmental impacts. By passing this resolution, Watchung has taken the first step in protecting its residents and environment from the potential impacts that would come with the construction and operation of a brand new pipeline in the community.
“Everyone on the Council is very concerned about the proposed pipeline. With all the contamination that’s all around us already, we need to do things smarter. This is too great a risk for all the communities that would be affected,” said Steve Black, Council Member, Watchung.
The Pilgrim Pipeline is being proposed to link Albany, New York, and Linden, New Jersey. The project would consist of two pipelines, one carrying crude oil to the Bayway Refinery in New Jersey and the other carrying refined products up to Albany. The pipeline would cross through environmentally sensitive areas critical for drinking water supply, including Highlands watersheds, and through densely populated communities. Pipeline construction will result in significant environmental impacts including destruction of wetlands and waterways and loss of forest cover.
“I am so happy that Watchung has taken an official stand against the Pilgrim Pipeline. A pipeline transporting such flammable oil is too dangerous — it has no place going through suburban towns, close to homes and schools,” said Rachel Funcheon, a Watchung resident.
The risk of spills and accidents would come with having this infrastructure in our neighborhoods would Since 2010 there have been 37 releases of more than 1,000 barrels of oil across US. Additionally there are significant safety concerns as only one-fifth of the national pipeline system has been inspected by PHMSA or its state partners since 2006. And when spills do occur they are more likely to be detected by residents in the community than detection or monitoring systems. The Wall Street Journal found that of the pipeline portions with detection systems, less than 20% of oil spills were discovered by the monitoring controls since 2010.
“We thank the Watchung Township Council for their leadership in opposing the Pilgrim Pipeline. By passing this resolution the Council members are putting clean drinking water, public health and safety, and environmental protection first,” said Kate Millsaps, Conservation Program Coordinator, NJ Sierra Club.