Dominion Cove Point property where buildout is proposed to take place.
Dominion Cove Point has applied for permits from Charles County, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build a 24,370 hp fracked gas compressor station on Barry's Hill, New Marshall Hall Rd. in Charles County, Maryland that AMP Creeks Council says poses potential harm to humans, wild animals, and livestock. The expansion plan will increase the capacity of its existing Cove Point pipeline, allegedly to supply fracked gas to an embattled proposed power plant in Brandywine and Washington Gas and Light. The compressor station, that Dominion calls Charles Station, is part of Dominion's Eastern Market Access (EMA) project. EMA also includes an expansion of a Loudon County compressor station and an upgrade of the Pleasant Valley compressor station. Charles Station would be constructed on 14 acres, of which only 1.5 are already cleared, at the site of its existing infrastructure across from Mill Swamp.
The area is well known for beautiful wetlands that often flood during rains and are home to many animals including bobcats, herons, snowy owls, and giant “dinosaur” turtles. Nevertheless, Dominion insists that they have found 14 adjoining acres that are not wetlands, exactly where Dominion needs them to be. This discovery is much to the surprise of local residents who know the area well. Three large local fires that occurred in the last two years have residents worried about first responders' ability to deal with an emergency at the proposed station were one to arise. “After watching our 3,000 square foot garage and our greenhouse burn to the ground while we waited 45 minutes for water to be available," said Marcy Canavan "the idea that a fire at the proposed compressor station could be dealt with is inconceivable. I have a picture of many fire hoses run up the driveway – all with no water to inflate them, while responders from four fire stations stood waiting for water to be trucked in,” Canavan lives one lot away from the Dominion property with a fire hydrant at the end of her street.
Given that fires and explosions at compressor stations are not uncommon, there is a serious concern about how the community would be protected should something go wrong at Charles Station. Additionally, there is concern about air pollution caused by fugitive emissions from the compressor station and noxious emissions from the 50' exhaust stacks. Bill Peil is part of a group in Calvert County that has done a great deal of research into emissions that would come from the fracked gas export terminal Dominion is building there. He is also researching emissions that might come from Charles Station.
“The hydraulic fractured gas coming from Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale is known to have high levels of radon. The fact that the gas will travel quickly from Pennsylvania to Charles Station will result in high levels of radioactive radon being emitted when it is burned.” Dominion has a documented pattern of lying to or misleading various agencies in their application processes. Many members of the public mistrust them over the Charles Station project and question their true motives for building the compressor station. For example, Dominion has told Charles County that they will not build any structures higher than 36' at Charles Station. The two exhaust stacks they want to build are each 50' high, and the compressor station building itself is roughly 48' high at its peak. They promised Loudon and Myersville commissioners that they would not expand the compressor stations in their town, but have already doubled the size of the Myersville location and are applying to quadruple it. Expansion of the Loudon compressor station is also planned. Judith Allen-Leventhal of Accokeek, MD said, “Any assurances are meaningless because Dominion and the natural gas industry in general are exempt or excluded from parts or all of a number of major federal environmental laws. These laws range from protecting clean water and air, to preventing the release of toxic substances and chemicals into the environment.” Comments to FERC can be made about this project until March 17 through efile system at www.ferc.gov or via mail.