The alliance Protect Northern PA has launched a website in hopes of sharing its concerns about a liquefied natural gas plant under construction in Wyalusing Twp., which members believe could have an extensive, adverse effect.
“We hope it will accomplish raising people’s awareness of how this particular facility is about to impact their community,” said Diana Dakey, an organizer for Protect Northern PA from Dalton.
Protect Northern PA formed last year and consists of community members, environmental groups, civic organizations and local business owners. It has a core group of around 20 people.
Its new website, protectnorthernpa.org, lets the public know of a plan from New Fortress Energy to build a multi-million dollar plant in Browntown between U.S. Route 6 and the Susquehanna River. The plant under construction seeks to convert fracked gas into 3.5 million gallons of LNG per day, then transport it by tanker truck or rail to an export terminal in Gibbstown, N.J.
“We learned that people not only in southern Bradford County, but in surrounding counties are going to be impacted by this project,” Dakey said. “I live in Lackawanna County, but I’m expected to be impacted.”
According to the website, “hazardous, flammable material” could move on public thoroughfares through twelve Pennsylvania counties, including Bradford, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Carbon, Lehigh, Bucks, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Chester and Delaware.
It may also move through linear business districts like Dallas and Clarks Summit, congested highways and possibly a turnpike tunnel, the website said.
“The scheme in Wyalusing Twp. is unique,” Dakey said, explaining that LNG is typically created in coastal areas, rather than inland. This also means it won’t make natural gas more readily available to domestic users, she added.
Another concern for Protect Northern PA is that the Wyalusing Twp. Board of Supervisors had the ability to make decisions regarding the plant with no obligation to consult neighboring areas, as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s “fragmented approach to permitting” that played a role in the project moving forward, Dakey said.
It’s also a major problem that citizens need to jump through hoops to get information about such topics, Dakey said. She hopes the Protecting Northern PA website can serve this purpose and help give them a voice.
Visitors may notice artwork featured on the website by Brian Keeler, a resident of Ithaca, N.Y. who keeps ties with his hometown of Wyalusing.
Through Protect Northern PA, Keeler has advocated to protect the historic value of the area of the facility, which is the site of the Friedenshutten Moravian mission, as well as its environmental importance and aesthetic appeal.
For Keeler, it’s been a lifelong pursuit to paint that stretch of the Susquehanna River, and he said it’s “an abomination that it would be desecrated in such a way.”
Persons in Wyoming County are particularly concerned about train traffic of up to 100 cars per day across Route 29 South of Tunkhannock as liquefied natural gas finds its way to points south and on to the Caribbean.
New Fortress Energy issued a statement about the project, saying it has “invested substantially in site work, preparation, land development and restoration for the Wyalusing project over the past year.”
“We greatly appreciate the continued support from the local community and its elected representatives,” said Jake Suski with New Fortress. “Active work onsite will continue through mid-June and then will decrease over the following months as we navigate the unknowns and challenges associated with the current global pandemic. We will continue to update the community and work with local stakeholders as the development process advances.”