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Nexus Pipeline Threatens Livelihoods of Ohio Organic Farmers

Teri Utz Bersee of Logan County says the Nexus pipeline would threaten the future of her organic farm. (Bersee and Utz Heirloom Farm)
Teri Utz Bersee of Logan County says the Nexus pipeline would threaten the future of her organic farm. (Bersee and Utz Heirloom Farm)
July 19, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Some Ohio landowners say the construction of a proposed natural-gas pipeline would plow up their livelihood.

The Nexus Pipeline would carry natural gas through nearly a dozen Northern Ohio counties up through Michigan to Canada. Teri Utz Bersee, who runs an organic farming operation in Lucas County near the proposed pipeline, said the project threatens farmland, open space and a river. A compressor station also is planned just a mile from her property, which Bersee noted will create a toxic cloud within close range.

"It luckily will not be in our direction most of the time," she said, "but the two- to five-mile radius of toxins falling will definitely hit our organic farm and we would not be able to grow anything there that is marketable as organic."

Bersee said organic certification is difficult to obtain and can easily be compromised by chemicals or toxins. The Nexus project would provide an $830 billion economic impact and create 6,800 jobs. However, Bersee and other opponents have argued that the threats to health, safety, land and water are too great. Currently, the permitting process for the Nexus is stalled until current vacancies on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are filled.

While supporters say pipelines are the safest way to transport fuels across the state, Bersee argued that the dangers cannot be overstated. She said it's documented that toxins from leaking pipelines and compressor stations contain dangerous cancer-causing chemicals.

"They watched this in other communities where people get ill," she said. "There are livestock illness and deaths, there are spontaneous explosions if not fires, there are mini-earthquakes - all of this from this nonsense going on."

Federal data shows the number of significant pipeline incidents, meaning those that result in serious injury or death, grew by more than 26 percent from 2006 to 2015. In Ohio, two million gallons of drilling mud were spilled into a wetland in May as part of the ET Rover pipeline construction. Since that time, three other accidents have occurred. Pipeline incident data is online at phmsa.dot.gov.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH