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Environmental Analyst: NG Advantage Misleading Fenton Residents

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A study by an environmental data firm comparing NG Advantage's Milton site to a controversial gas compressor station in Fenton shows vast differences.

"It's irrefutable, I don't see how anyone could say that the two sites are similar," said Walter Hang, Toxics Targeting President.

Hang says pointing out the differences is important because NG Advantage hosted a free bus trip and tour to its Milton plant to quell residents' safety concerns of having a compressed natural gas facility in their community.

Hang found there are ten times more sensitive receptors (homes, schools, parks, places of worship, etc.) within a one-mile radius of the Fenton location compared to the Milton site. In total there are more than 2,000 homes and businesses at risk in Fenton compared to just 200 in Milton.

"There are too many homes, too many commercial buildings where there could be hundreds of people congregating, so this is really not an appropriate location for this kind of facility," said Hang.

NG Advantage CEO, Rico Biasetti has called the Milton location very similar to the one in Fenton.

Hang and a group of three researchers compiled local, state, and federal environmental data of both the NG Advantage location in Milton and the proposed site in Fenton. They applied the data onto maps to identify how land is zoned - agricultural, industrial or residential.

"The two locations are nothing alike, they're completely different," said Hang.

The map shows a majority of the land surrounding the Fenton site is densely populated residential areas with commercial zones making up the second largest portion. There are only a few spots that contain agricultural, rural or industrial areas, which Hang says makes Fenton a poor location for the project.

"This is a very densely developed area and it's just got thousands of homes and buildings all around pretty much the whole proposed location," said Hang.

In contrast, the Milton location is mostly comprised of agricultural/rural land and is directly encompassed by an industrial zone. This is a stark contrast to the proposed site.

"You can tell that there are almost no homes in the [Milton] area," said Hang. He adds that the Milton natural gas site is built exactly where you want one to be - away from all the people.

"You want a dangerous industrial facility in a big industrial area surrounded by very few homes," said Hang. "If there was ever an incident at this proposed location [Fenton], it could just create incredible chaos."

According to Hang, the only reason NG Advantage chose the West Service Road location is because of it's convenience and proximity to the Millennium Pipeline. He adds that the Pipeline carrying the natural gas runs alongside a 19th Century crude oil pipeline that is still contaminated after Officials failed to clean it up.

Hang says there is absolutely reason for people in the area to be concerned about what could happen if this facility is built in the current location along West Service Road.

"We've documented that these compressed gas operations all over New York have had fires, they've had evacuations up to two miles away," said Hang. "Accidents can happen, accidents do happen."

He says valves can break, safety backups can fail, and his records show that trucks have a history of driving off the road as well.

"Fenton is not where you want to have an evacuation with huge major highways, residential areas, and commercial businesses," said Hang. "The problem with these proposed facilities is that they can catch on fire, they can blow up, and they can cause industrial accidents."

According to Hang, Governor Andrew Cuomo has written to one concerned local resident about the need for at least one permit to be in place in order for construction to take place.

That letter states that a State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit is necessary to control storm water runoff. Hang says it's possible NG Advantage has this permit, but is urging the Governor to review and revoke it, which can be done at anytime.

Hang believes there could be more permits required in the long run for this project including Air Discharge and Bulk Storage. He's asking Cuomo to adopt a moratorium on the project and investigate it - something the Town of Fenton did not do.

"They totally did not care what the public had to say and they didn't want to hear about the problems with compressed gas or the Millennium Pipeline," said Hang. Back on May 24, he presented some of his research in front of the Town of Fenton Zoning Board of Appeals against approving the project, but he says they were dismissive to him. Later that night, the ZBA unanimously approved the project.

After analyzing all of the data, Hang says there is only one option that doesn't put the public's safety or the environment at risk.

"This project should not be allowed to proceed," said Hang.

In a statement, NG Advantage told Fox 40 that Hang's "maps simply aren't credible." Hang responded shortly after saying "the Government data speaks for itself."

The fate of the project falls into the hands of Supreme Court Judge Ferris Lebous who will hear two separate Article 78's on August 2. The first was submitted by the Chenango Valley Central School District, which resulted in a temporary work stoppage on the project. The second was submitted by a group of residents led by Maureen Singer to provide additional support to the School District's petition.