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Saturday, October 4, 2014

The "Striking Close To Home" Story

Blue Ridge Cable reporter standing with
Nancy and Jack in front of large tree that
will be cut down in the near future.
It was an ordinary day.  Talking with Jack and Nancy about all the trees that have pink ribbons around their trunks and have to be cut down in their yard.  Seems the large tree we are standing next to is one of them that has provided shade for their property for years.  Has to be close to four feet in diameter and 50 feet tall.  Reason why the trees will be cut down is they are on Texas Eastern Transmission Corp.'s right of way and the company has decided that it is now time to enforce their rules and destroy any shrub or tree that is taller than 4 feet in height along their 75-foot-wide natural gas pipeline corridor that runs through our neighborhood.  Nancy told me she moved here in 1996 when the trees that are marked for cutting were much smaller.  
To the right or their driveway stand two other very large
trees that will be cleared from the gas line right-of-way.
The people from whom they purchased the property said that the company had enforced the rule about years 25 years ago when they replaced one of the two pipelines that are beneath us.  They received a payment for the trees and shrubs that had to be cut down which was payment enough to head to Florida for an entire winter.  The only thing that Jack and Nancy will receive is the burden of clean-up, the annoyance and inconvenience of the equipment on their property and the loss of all the shade they were accustomed to over the years.  
Across the steer from their house can be seen the orange
pipeline markers which travel through all the neighbors yards.
The gas pipeline runs through Lancaster County from Marietta to the Chester County line in Salisbury Township.  Can't imagine how many shrubs and trees the company will be cutting down and now much it will cost to complete the chore.  The pipeline runs for approximately 35 miles and was constructed during World War II by our government.  
A block to the east of Nancy and Jack's house sits a rather
large RV which will have to be moved from on top of the pipeline.
There are actually two pipelines that run approxi- mately 6 feet under the ground in many areas. Big Inch and Little Inch pipelines were built between 1942 and 1944 to compensate for the tankers that were being sunk offshore by the Nazis.  Big Inch, which is a 24-inch pipe,  carried crude oil from Texas to New Jersey. The 20-inch Little Inch line transported gasoline.  When WWII ended the pipelines were offered to the private sector and where then purchased by Texas Eastern and converted to carry natural gas.  Neighbors in this area didn't know much about the pipelines except for the large orange metal posts that sit along the pipeline.  
A block away from my house is a large swatch of land that
carries the pipeline.  In the distance are other trees that
will have to be cut down.
That was until 1989 when Texas Eastern replaced the 24-inch pipe with a 36-inch pipe in order to meet federal safety regulations.  The 36-inch pipe is a high pressure pipe while Little Inch operates at a lower pressure.  Can't imagine what would happen if the roots of the large trees that sit atop the pipelines contaminate the line and cause a puncture.  In 1956 a pipe ruptured in San Bruno, CA killing eight and injuring 52 as well as destroying 38 homes.  Nancy was naturally quite concerned about the fact that the pipe that is 6 feet under her grass where the 50 foot tree resides could rupture.  She pointed out that the branches extend close to 40 feet from the trunk meaning the roots probably drop 40 feet below the grass.  Kind of scary knowing the roots have entwined around the two pipes which liquid natural gas.  She told me she is so upset that the company will be cutting down her trees and shrubs, but thankful that nothing has happened to the pipeline all these years.  
Across the street from the last photo is a home with a very
nice manicured lawn and plenty of trees.  Click on the photo
and you will see several pink ribbons on trees that will be
taken down, since they are on the right-of-way of the gas pipeline.
A block away I saw a house with many pink ribbons displayed that stand alongside a large RV.  I found out that the RV will not be allowed to sit atop the pipeline either as well as any outdoor sheds that may now occupy space above the pipeline.  My home is slightly more than a block from the pipeline and I knew it was there when I bought my home.  It would take an extremely large explosion in order to affect the neighbors along my street, but I know that could be possible.  I feel bad for all those who will lose their treasured shrubs and trees, but I prefer that the safety of the pipeline not be comprised.  As I was preparing to leave Jack and Nancy, a Blue Ridge Cable van was stopping across the street and a reporter and cameraman were heading in our direction.  The retired couple have become instant celebrities, but prefer that all of this notoriety had never happened.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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