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Agency waves on AIM pipeline project after construction incident

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not concerned aboutany long-term impacts from an emergency dig on the west side of the HudsonRiver near Tomkins Cove, N.Y., which was required after a complication duringconstruction of Algonquin GasTransmission LLC's Algonquin Incremental Market pipeline expansion.

Although the dig occurred outside FERC-approved workspace,the Fish and Wildlife Service appeared to be satisfied with the explanation andhandling of the incident.

"Based on the information provided in this emailstring, I see no reason to revisit our consultation for the AIM project,"Anthony Tur, a Fish and Wildlife acting deputy refuge manager, wrote in anemail to TRC Cos. Inc., an engineering, environment and construction firm onthe Algonquin project.

In an earlier email, TRC had explained to the agency thatconstruction workers conducted an emergency excavation in order to find a drillstring that disconnected as they tried to pull a 42-inch-diameter gas pipelineunder the Hudson River through space made by horizontal directional drilling.

"The encroachment into wetland A14-SPLR-W100 waslimited to approximately 381 square feet outside the limits of our approvedFERC workspace [and included] the removal of five locust/red maplesaplings/trees," TRC said. The firm said the wetland was not bog turtlehabitat, and project surveys had not found any federally protected bats in thearea.

FERC had asked Algonquin, a Spectra Energy Corp pipeline company, to consult withthe Fish and Wildlife Service after the Aug. 28 . Algonquin did exchangeinformation with the wildlife agency on Thursday, Sept. 22, even before itreceived the letter from FERC on Sept. 29.

"Algonquin Gas Transmission welcomes FERC's continuousoversight and guidance, as well as its ongoing inspections, during constructionof the Algonquin Incremental Market project," Spectra Energy spokesmanCreighton Welch said on Sept. 30. "We are cooperating with FERC andcontinue to provide on a timely basis the information they request."

Construction of the project continues under FERC authorization.Algonquin still anticipates a November in-service date in order to get gas toNew England by winter, Welch said.