“My first thought was it’s a nuclear bomb, we’re dead,” Kim Krajniak said in a 1994 New York Times article. “No words could ever tell you how frightening it was. My sliding glass door was like an oven. People were running out in their underwear. It was bedlam. People running and falling, kids naked. I felt like an animal running scared for my life.”
On the morning of March 23, 1994, a Texas Eastern Transmission gas pipeline erupted next to an apartment complex in Edison, New Jersey. The chaos that ensued resulted in $25 million in damage and left 128 families without homes.
Now, Texas Eastern Transmission’s parent company, Spectra Energy Corp., wants to build a pipeline that will cut straight through Valdosta’s backyard.
Spectra Energy is engaged in joint-venture with NextEra Energy to construct the $3 billion Sabal Trail pipeline.
The pipeline will stretch 474 miles across the southeast with 196 of those being in Georgia. It will also undercut the Green Swamp in central Florida, an area that provides a significant amount of drinking water to the Florida aquifer.
“My mom and dad taught us that we are the caretakers of our land, and I feel if we don’t protect our land — protect our water and our ecosystem — we’re going to lose it,” Roselyn Beasley Bridges, property owner in Mitchell, Worth, Colquitt and Dougherty counties, said in an interview with the Albany Herald. “Every person in this region who turns on a faucet and gets a glass of pure, clear drinking water should thank God. And that, more than anything, is what I feel is at stake here.”
Transporting natural gas over land is a serious gambit. Since 1994 there have been 39 fatalities, 188 injuries and $1,216,973,783 in damage due to 1,541 incidents across the country, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration.
But, area residents might feel safer if Spectra Energy has a sparkling safety record, right?
Too bad it doesn’t. The Texas Eastern Transmission pipeline has had 21 incidents which resulted in one injury and over $8 million in damages. Thirteen of the incidents occurred because of external corrosion, according to the PHMSA.
Unfortunate statistics for a company that claims its “pipeline facilities are cleaned to minimize
internal corrosion and maintain high-flow efficiency.”
With Spectra Energy’s spotty safety record and the nearly 500 miles of precious ecosystem that the Sabal Trail pipeline will cross, the risks are just too great.
Valdosta does not need to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the Edison pipeline explosion by allowing the responsible company to drag another pipeline through the country.
Instead of another pipeline, it is time the community made a demand for less archaic forms of energy.
Fracking, a method that involves injecting fluids under high pressure into the ground to break up shale rock, poses a major health risk to residents in drilling areas.
A health survey released by the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project reported that people who lived near drilling sites in Washington County, Pennsylvania reported experiencing nausea, abdominal pain, breathing difficulties and nosebleeds—symptoms that could be caused by toxins released in the drilling process.
Fracking is also responsible for high levels of methane and other carcinogens found in drinking water near drill sites. Methane rates can measure as much as 17 times the normal limit in affected areas.
So who are we really helping by allowing this pipeline?
Corporate giants like Spectra and NextEra have a lot to gain from transporting 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day, but can the planet sustain the constant insanity of milking finite resources for profit.
VSU students, find your voice. Write to your local state representatives, and let them know that it is time to usher in a new age of renewable energy.