Friday, February 13, 2015



Peter Zoumberakis
Lake Township Resident
'Fears of Explosion'
COalition re-Route Nexus

Going back to 2010, The Stark County Political Report has been doing blogs about the proliferation of Marcellus and Utica shale gas and oil wells extracted by a "fracking" process.

The focus until today's blog has been the dangers (i.e. mainly environmental contaminants) to Stark Countians from an accident that occurs in the "fracking" process itself.

While for some, including Stark County civic activist Chris Borello of Plain Township, the dangers from "fracking" itself continue to be a major concern.

Borello's political activist history includes being:
For some Stark Countians, Borello is a person who has "cried wolf" on an impending Stark County-centered environmental disaster from "fracking" and since no catastrophe has occurred she is not to be taken seriously.

Only Plain Township trustee Louis P. Giavasis has taken her warnings to heart and tried to use local government powers (a limited as they are) to protect Plain Township residents from a nightmare experience should - over time - Borello's fears be realized.

At the February 11th regular weekly meeting of the Stark County commissioners, a new Lake Township-connected name surfaced on concerns about dangers to Stark County residents - down the line from "fracking" itself - from the production of the gas byproduct of the process and that is in the transmission (seemingly a harmless phase of delivering the product, no?) of gas from production fields to market.

According to Lake resident Peter Zoumberakis of 9283 Coblentz NW there is no "seeming harmless" about it, the proposed Spectra Energy Nexus Pipeline Project (partnering with DTE Energy) is a "real" danger, he says, to him and his family as well as anyone else in its path.

Zoumberakis, in a presentation to Stark County commissioners on Wednesday, outlined the fears he lives with day-in, day-out (along with his wife and three month old child) at the prospect that his Lake Township property is - as matters stand now - will have on it (actually buried 3 foot deep) by 2017 a 42" diameter pipeline under 1400 pounds per square inch (psi) pressure.

Watch this riveting video of Peter Zoumberakis:

Zoumberakis was the last of about half-a-dozen "public speaks" presenters including the sitting mayor of the City of Green, Ohio (a Summit County community which is adjacent to on the west to Stark County's Lake Township) and the presenters endeavored to persuade Stark's commissioners to take an active role in an effort to convince FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner) to order a re-route of the contemplated Spectra Energy pipeline.  (Video about 3:30)

Backing up just a bit from the Zoumberakis video, first up at this week's commissioners' meeting was David Eigel, a petroleum engineer, himself a resident of Lake Township.

In his presentation (about 6 minutes), Eigel:
  • talks about having first approached the Stark County commissioners about a month or so ago (December 23, 2014) about the commissioners on behalf of affected Stark Countians joining the Coalition to re-Route Nexus (CORN) in the coalition's effort to persuade the federal government to order a re-route of the proposed pathway of the pipeline from densely populated areas, 
    • SCPR note:  the pipeline as projected is schedule to run through Stark County's Lake, Marlboro, Nimishillen and Washington townships,
  • identifies his goal at Wednesday's commissioners' session as being to persuade the commissioners to schedule a work session (the SCPR's phrase; not Eigel's) so that the CORN has:
    • the opportunity to provide more information to the commissioners in the futherance of the group's goal
      • to persuade Stark's commissioners to join CORN,
  • outlines that NPC represents property owners like Zoumberakis in 14 townships stretching from Stark County back through Ohio to the Michigan border,
    • notes that local governments (e.g. Summit County and the City of Green) have signed on as being part of the coalition,
  • emphasizes that the CORN is not about stopping the pipeline and says that the CORN sees the transmission of gas as being an economic asset for Ohio and America, and
  • promises that CORN will develop (an unprecedented action) a re-route map to submit to FERC (he terms as being a "disinterested" party) and thereby provide a win-win (a SCPR expression; not Eidgel's) for FERC to latch onto as a solution to the disagreement between CORN and Spectra,

Next up at Wednesday's meeting was Richard Norton, mayor of Green, Ohio (located in southern most Summit County):

Mayor Norton: (might be taken as some as being a "yes, go ahead but NIMBY [not my my backyard]), as follows:
  • describes the prospect that Nexus as proposed will run under or close to Green parks, schools and other public places,
  • reiterates the potentially catastrophic danger even if the overall odds of an event occurring are low,
  • emphasizes the importance of Stark County being on board with CORN as a big county, and
  • points out that the potential of a gas pipeline explosion calamity is different from the risk one takes on getting on an airplane in that the former is an involuntary risk imposed on citizens whereas in traveling by air one has a choice

Next up David Mucklow an attorney working with CORN who lives in projected pathway of Nexus.

Mucklow focues on a very important factor in trying to persuade the Stark commissioners to join in with CORN, namely:
  • FERC daily reads stakeholder input and therefore the effort the affect the process is a "real" one and not a futile one,
Mucklow also:
  • provides a case example in describing his elderly mother (a property owner stakeholder) being insensitively handled by Nexus employees contacting pipeline pathway property owners, and
  • presents an analogy that should get everybody's attention:
    • "it's (the pipeline) like having a dynamite factor placed in one's backyard,"

Next up is Paul Gierosky of York Township located in Medina County.

Gierosky has been the lead person in putting together CORN.  This organizing effort started in August, 2014.  In his presentation, Gierosky make the following points:
  • the purpose of CORN is to look after:
    • public safety,
    • property values, and
    • property rights
  • the mission is to:
    •  "to inform, educate and persuade
      • Nexus/Spectra Energy officials,
        • to choose a route through a less densely populated area, probably south,"
  • the goal is to create a pipeline safety corridor via
  • implementing a CORN strategy designed to convince industry/FERC factors that all lines should be relocated to one pathway in the least dense that good planning can devise.

The last presenter to the Stark commissioners published in this blog is Wayne Wiethe.

Wiethe made two basic points:
  • transportation studies and census data nominate Green and Lake Township as being urban areas, and
  • a huge priority for Green in getting Nexus relocated is to allow developers, who own the land which Nexus in currently projected to traverse, to realize their plans to develop the property, which, off course, will benefit Green and its residents economically and financially.

The SCPR was impressed with the presentation made by Nexus relocation advocates (i.e. CORN) on Wednesday.

It would be surprising if CORN does not succeed.

And The Report urges the Stark Commissioners to help CORN in any way the board can.

Next Friday, the SCPR plans on publishing Part 2 of this mini-series three part blog on the Nexus pipeline project in anticipation of a work session that commissioners will be holding with CORN activists on February 24th at 10:00 a.m. in the meeting room of the commissioners located on the second floor of the Stark County office building.

Part 2 will focus on post February 11 interviews with Gierosky and Eigel.

Part 3 will deal with the February 24th work session and the results of that session.

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