Arson Suspected in Compressor Station Fire

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 @ 11:08 AM gHale

A fire Saturday night at a natural gas compressor station in Milford Township, PA, appears to be an arson, state police said.

Citing an ongoing criminal investigation, state police Fire Marshal Steve Kaneski would not comment. The alarm came in at 10:27 p.m. Saturday at the station off Fire Tower Road, he said.

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A security guard at the station identified the small fire inside the building and then called 911. Local firefighters then went in to put out the fire, said Scott Castleman, spokesman for Columbia Pipeline Group, which owns the facility. Members of Columbia’s operations team were there within an hour, he said.

The compressor station is near the intersection of the north-to-south Columbia Gas Transmission pipeline and the east-to-west Tennessee Gas Pipeline, both major interstate transmission lines that serve heavily populated regions of the East Coast.

Residents have come out against the compressor station, citing concerns over its proposed air emissions and emergency risks. A group led by environmental and property rights activist Alex Lotorto, originally from Milford, distributed yard signs, held rallies and filed an appeal of the facility’s state-issued air quality permit to the state Environmental Hearing Board.

“The goal of Energy Justice Network and the local residents involved in Stop the Milford Compressor Station Expansion has always been to eliminate risks to health and safety, not to instill fear in the hearts and minds of Fire Tower (Road) residents. We wish we could say the same for Columbia,” Lotorto said Sunday.

There are no suspects at this time, Kaneski said.

Despite some residents’ calls for emissions-free electric compressor units, Castleman said the station will use natural gas-fired turbines. The station is still under construction and had no gas flowing through its pipes at the time of the fire, he said.

The fire damaged the metal platform where a compression turbine sits, Kaneski said. Damage estimates right now are at $80,000, although that number could change, he said.