Dehydration Plant in Wheatfield raises stakeholder concerns



National Fuel waits for approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington

Reported by Alexander Ehms in Buffalo

15 January 2016 – Buffalo, NY, USA – In the town of Wheatfield, residents are skeptical of a new dehydration plant. National Fuel has proposed a new natural gas dehydration facility, costing $8 million to be located in the Wheatfield area. This new facility is a part of a $455 million dollar upgrade to the company’s pipelines throughout the Western New York region.

160115-pmwj42-Ehms-national-IMAGE1The new $8 million dollar facility would be used to meet government regulations for export of natural gas into Canada. The gas, obtained from hydraulic fracturing would need to meet the Canadian standard of 4 pounds of water per million cubic feet (opposed to US standards of 7 pounds per million). The company is currently awaiting approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington.

Although the dehydration plant will serve no role in the delivery of natural gas to the local region (Wheatfield), residents are concerned about the health risks of living near the facility. Because natural gas contains trace chemicals, National Fuel utilizes thermal oxidizers to remove this waste. However, these oxidizers are only 99% effective, meaning that a fraction of these chemicals would be released into the surrounding environment. With 36,000 dehydration systems in active use today, the EPA has indicated that several of the byproducts of this system include Methane, VOCs, and HAPs.

Although residents have expressed their concerns, National Fuel has only volunteered information regarding the facilities combustor unit. Additional information has not been released regarding the technologies used.

160115-pmwj42-Ehms-national-IMAGE2A flash tank separator unit for example, would reduce the amount VOCs released into the environment. These flash tanks are sometimes used in what is known as a Zero Emission Dehydrator. This term describes a system that utilizes multiple technologies to completely eliminate emissions and improve the amount of useable gas recovered during the process. These zero emissions systems tend to incorporate electric pumps, desiccant dehydration units, and vapor recovery units.

As Wheatfield residents await approval, employees of National Fuel continue to vouch for the safety of the plant.

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