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Jul 15, 2015 6:07 PM

NH1 News Investigates: The incineration zone?

NH1 News

Recent pipeline explosions across the country are fueling fears over a huge pipeline that may soon pass through Southern New Hampshire. People living along the 17-town proposed route are afraid that — if approved — the pipeline simply can’t be buried deep enough to keep their families safe. But are their fears justified?

California, West Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Pennsylvania — 2015 is an explosive year for natural gas pipeline accidents.

It’s unsettling news for Granite Staters living along the 80-miles of proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline. It’s an area neighbors say has been named, “The Incineration Zone.”

“That is a term that they use,” Jennifer Chandonnet said. “Calling it the incineration zone sounds a bit ominous.”

Chandonnet’s home and her children’s day care center are in that zone.

“I’m used to seeing what happens. The unintended consequences of business," said Chandonnet, an expert in corporate and casualty insurance. "If unintended consequences didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have a job.”

Chandonnet’s been tracking the proposed route online and said she’s concerned about what she sees so far.

“The incineration zone itself is a thousand foot radius on either side of the pipeline,” Chandonnet said.

Other residents also are fighting to protect their family's safety.

“I don’t really think that the pipeline company wants their pipeline to explode,” Kaela Law said. "This could just come really close to our house. If it gets to the construction phase, they need to be held accountable for everything.”

Kinder Morgan stresses that they work hard to keep areas around the pipeline's safe.

“Safety is our number one priority as well,” said Allen Fore, vice president of public affairs for Kinder Morgan.

This 2015 National Transportation Safety Board report finds that pipeline projects across the country and throughout the entire network, are not all as safe as they can be, citing concerns about inspections and maintenance procedures.

Then there’s Kinder Morgan’s performance record. After some digging, the Union Leader discovered more than 20 incidents since 2003 that were serious enough to be reported to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

“When people ask are asking about records about what companies to I ask them to be fair and balanced,” Fore said. “Does that mean we do everything right and we don’t have any incidents? No I’m not saying that.”

But the families are worried about what else Kinder Morgan isn’t saying.

“I feel like I can't make an educated decision about whether or not I would really want this pipeline in my backyard until I know more about it," Law said.

Fore said Kinder Morgan did not come up with the term “incineration zone” for the potential danger zones surrounding the proposed pipeline.

The company is also opening a headquarters in Amherst in August, so residents can drop by and share concerns with Kinder Morgan in person. Residents also can contact Kinder Morgan using its new NH website.

NH1 News told Kinder Morgan that we are committed to covering this important story until the people of New Hampshire are satisfied that their questions and concerns are addressed. You can send us your concerns to news@nh1.com.

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