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Arguments Continue for Buckeye Partners Pipeline Project

Pre-application and Submission Phase

3/6/17 Caucus & 3/8/17 Council Meeting

There were many Union Workers present at the 3/8/17 Council Meeting. *Photo by Carolyn Maxwell

PERTH AMBOY – R-120-3/17 – Supporting the pre-application submission to the NJDEP Green Acres Program for major diversion of certain parkland in connection with the Buckeye Partners L.K. Pipeline Project.

Councilman Irizarry had concerns because he hadn’t seen the Oral Comments from the recent Buckeye Public Meetings held in Perth Amboy. “Also, who reviewed them? (the transcripts) I wanted a copy of the comments. We received a memorandum from the Law Office, but comments, transcripts and summaries were not provided from the Scope Hearings. Written and oral comments need to be given to us in enough time to completely review it.”

Business Administrator Adam Cruz said, “I can get it to the Council in whatever format you want it in by tomorrow (3/7/17).”

A Representative from Buckeye, Steve Some came up to answer Irizarry’s concerns, “Everything requested has been done and provided to the City over a week ago by Attorney Wendy Rubinstein.”

Council President Bill Petrick asked, “Who reviewed the information?”

Cruz responded, “Me.”

During the public portion, Resident Sharon Hubberman came up to speak, “During the Scope Hearing, I asked Buckeye questions pertaining to remediation, arsenic and railroad tracks and problems that may be associated with these items. I was brushed aside. The Scope Hearing was a failed open house. They (Buckeye) didn’t want to hear questions asked by the audience. We have a responsibility involving our environment.”

Hubberman then proceeded to speak about some of the warnings regarding petroleum pipelines. She warned the Council that she doesn’t think they’ll have enough time to get everything (reports) they need.

Resident Ken Balut came up next, “The Mayor and Fire Department were not present at the Scope Hearings. You probably could have gotten a plaque for Thomas Mundy Peterson from Buckeye.”

At the 3/8/17 Council Meeting, Buckeye was still a hot topic.

Ken Balut came up to speak. He looked behind him at the large amount of people in the Council Chambers and remarked, “It’s amazing that all these people (Union Workers contracted by Buckeye) are here, but not the Mayor. She (the Mayor) made phone calls threatening you guys. Where are the Police and Fire Department?”

Councilman Irizarry said, “The Mayor never called me about Buckeye. Even if she had threatened me, I’m here for the citizens. I’m not a lapdog.”

Resident Sharon Hubberman said, “The Council should get information on the values of the homes in the pipeline area. We need to take the terrorism aspect very seriously. We don’t have homeland security. A gas station was recently held up. We already have a lot of issues. We’re not against jobs. We just have concerns about the safety of our residents and all the workers who want to put that pipeline through. Remediations by Chevron are still not complete. Buckeye is in the top ten companies that have spills. This item, R-120 is pushed too quickly and fast. Buckeye’s Open House was more like a tradeshow.”

Resident Jeremy Baratta questioned the Council, “This is just a vote for an application.” He suggested that the Council vote “Yes,” and just let it go to the State next.

Resident Maria Varela came up to speak next, “I have been going to the Scope Meetings and the first one was horrible. I ask questions. The bottom line is Buckeye is not our friend. Do they (Buckeye) or the union workers have pipelines in their towns? Ms. Hubberman is correct because she does her research and so do I. The pipeline will be coming across all of Perth Amboy. Please, I’m praying that God will guide us. See the track record from that company (Buckeye). Residents from Perth Amboy care about our City. Vote “No,” for the pre-application for Buckeye. They are not transparent.”

Resident Pedro Martinez came up to speak, “I’m a retiree from Shell Oil.” He proceeded to relate an incident that happened in Sewaren. “Someone tried to tap into a line and there was a spill all over the place. As a safety issue, and also as an ex-Perth Amboy Fireman, I have friends that work for Buckeye. It’s also a pollution problem.”

Council President William Petrick gave the scenario if the Council voted “No,” on R-120. “The process stops and they (Buckeye) can’t use the Greenlands. The State will step in and view the application and send the information back to us. Buckeye can then go through the Federal Right Of Way.”

When it came time to vote on R-120, it was moved by Councilman Fernando Gonzalez and seconded by Councilman Fernando Irizarry. The vote was unanimous, “Yes.”

Council President Bill Petrick commended Buckeye for providing important information, but Petrick also faulted the Administration for not giving the Council information  in a timely manner.

Councilman Irizarry wanted to know who would be the first responders in an emergency.

Petrick responded, “The Police, Fire Department, Middlesex County Hazmat and the Buckeye Personnel and entities that they hire.”

Buckeye Representative Steve Some came forward to add more information, “We (Buckeye) work with all the Perth Amboy Emergency Responders for years along with the County. We did a drill last year. We also have more companies that respond to emergency situations.”

Another Buckeye Representative, Steve Guenther added, “Buckeye has a control center with trained personnel and a contract with other emergency responders.”

Steve Some addressed the incidents that some of the Residents referred to. “We have had small incidents that were caused by a third party. All incidents must be reported to the Federal and County Governments. As a corporation we try to hire as many people as possible from town.”

Guenther said, “The pipeline is inspected at least 25 times a year and is protected by a system that protects it from corrosion.”

Steve Some added, “Inspections are required by Federal and State laws. The Department of Transportation and the Federal and the State Departments both have to get all of our inspection reports.”

Guenther also added, “We use Langan Engineering who bores (drill) into the grounds to bring up soil samples which are analyzed in the lab.”

Councilman Irizarry thanked all the citizens who participated at the Buckeye Hearings. He mentioned 3 individuals, one who is Bill Shultz. “We can stop this at any moment. This company plans to be here a long time. We should be getting a lot of benefits. Let’s see what the State has to say.”

Councilman Jelmin Caba spoke and said, “It’s a pre-application and I believe that Buckeye should give back more to the community. I want to thank all the union members. I’m also in a union. Let this go back to the State.”

Councilman Pabon said, “I wanted to see more people from the City at the Meetings. They were given the opportunity. I thank Buckeye for providing information to us so quickly. I hope more people come out. Move it forward. They’re going to come through here. I was hoping the Fire Department was going to be here. The Buckeye drill that was done last year was massive.”

During the last public portion, the Residents tore into the Council for voting “Yes” on R-120.

Resident Virginia Lugo came up to speak, “You (the Council) didn’t have enough information about the pipelines. I thought this (R-120) would be tabled. The pre-application is the first step. This step has already been pre-approved. I’m really appalled. Does anybody have any figures for the benefits (to the City)? I have never seen any training sessions for people who want these jobs. You have made this decision without any viable information.”

Resident Sharon Hubberman tore into one of the Councilmen who insinuated that Buckeye could make a donation for funds that the library needs. “Some Council Members have others who make deals for them. I’ve had death threat bumper stickers put on my car. It’s illegal to make pleas. You showed a position of weakness, especially when you said you just got information at the last minute and you didn’t have time to review it.”

Resident Ken Balut came up to speak, “It’s a shame how Buckeye came here (Representatives and Union Workers). Where was the Fire Department and Police Department to speak on this matter? Buckeye’s money went to Administration Personnel Fees.”

A Resident from Rector Street wanted to know where the pipeline route would be.

Council President Petrick said, “They’re asking for a small part of property and if they don’t get the property, then we don’t get a tax break.”

Resident Philip Clark wanted to know if Rudyk Park would be affected.

The Council nodded, “No.”

Council President Petrick continued, “The route would be at the back of the car wash on State Street, the Patten School and the Outerbridge, the Federal right-of-way of the train track and it’s going under the train easement.”

Petrick asked Riverkeeper Bill Schultz to come up and add comments. Shultz said, “There is not a lot of Federal oversight. There are some alternative locations. The State relies a lot on Green Acres. There are a lot of public benefits. This could be financial or enhancement of parks. The bike path stops dead at Florida Grove Road.”

This prompted Councilman Fernando Gonzalez to ask, “Should the bike path continue into Perth Amboy?”

Shultz responded, “Maybe if it goes into Rudyk Park and continues. We can have one of the longest riverwalks on the east coast.”

During the Council Comments, Jelmin Caba said, “We are neighbors and the pipeline whether approved or not should give back to the City. City Residents ask Buckeye to give more to the community. Were they (the Residents) asking for bribes like when they accuse me of doing when I said funds are needed for the library?”

Council President Bill Petrick said, “Buckeye has approached the Council on what they can do to help the community.”

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