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Groups ask FERC to halt AIM project after problem crossing Hudson River

Environmental and community groups again called on FERC tostop Algonquin Gas TransmissionLLC's Algonquin Incremental Market natural gas pipeline project afterthe company reported an incident during construction.

FERC said Algonquin must talk with the U.S. Fish andWildlife Service after a violation of the commission's authorization duringconstruction of the expansion project. In a Sept. 29 letterreferring to a "serious violation," FERC thanked Algonquin for itscommunication about disturbance of a forested wetland that occurred at theproject's horizontal directional drill crossing at the Hudson River and thecompany's update of "protocols to prevent recurrence of communicationfailure," but the commission said the company must reach out to anotheragency.

Spectra EnergyCorp's Algonquin has worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York StateHistoric Preservation Officer.

However, FERC observed that "the U.S. Fish and WildlifeService has not been consulted about tree clearing outside of the allowedtiming window or regarding the potential presence of suitable bog turtlehabitat."

FERC said Algonquin should consult with the Fish andWildlife Service within seven days and report on the meeting.

The violation occurred within the spotlight of a state thathas tried to stop theproject and in front of opponents that have been against it from the beginning.New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo,state agencies and state lawmakers have asked FERC to halt the project on thegrounds of a safety review at EntergyCorp.'s Indian Point nuclear plant, which the pipeline passes.

Residents and environmental and community groups, includingStop the Algonquin Pipeline and West Roxbury (Mass.) Saves Energy, pointed tothe incident in asking FERC again to stop the project.

"As Spectra/Algonquin rushes to complete the AIMproject, we are calling on FERC to halt construction immediately and conduct afull investigation into the failed attempt to pull the 42" diameter stringof welded segments of the pipeline across the Hudson River using horizontaldirectional drilling (HDD)," the groups said in a letter to FERC that wasalso sent to the governor and U.S. congressmen. "Spectra has filed a newschedule and plans to attempt another pullback of the pipe through the HudsonRiver on September 28-October 1, 2016." (CP14-96)