Williams Partners has received a setback after the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) refused to issue its Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for $926.5m Northeast Supply Enhancement project (NESE pipeline project).

Pipeline sunset.

Image: Williams’ NESE pipeline project fails to get Water Quality Certification from New York State. Photo: courtesy of outgunned21/Freeimages.com.

The agency denied the certification to the NESE pipeline project on grounds of water quality violations. The decision from the New York regulator comes only days after the pipeline project was granted a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The proposed project will be an expansion of the Transco pipeline infrastructure across the states of Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. It has been designed to transport 400,000 dekatherms per day of additional natural gas to the National Grid.

A part of the NESE pipeline project involves the installation of nearly 28km of 26inch natural gas loop pipeline, called Raritan Bay Loop, in New York State waters. The Raritan Bay Loop is planned to be laid entirely underwater from New Jersey through Richmond and Queens Counties and eventually linked to the existing Rockaway Delivery Lateral in Queens.

DEC environmental permits division director Daniel Whitehead said: “As currently conceived in the application, construction of the NESE pipeline project is projected to result in water quality violations and fails to meet New York State’s rigorous water quality standards.

“Specifically, construction of the proposed project would result in significant water quality impacts from the re-suspension of sediments and other contaminants, including mercury and copper. In addition, the proposed project would cause impacts to habitats due to the disturbance of shellfish beds and other benthic resources.”

DEC said that it carried out a comprehensive review of the NESE application and supporting materials, along with more than 14,000 public comments made on the project, before making its decision.

The NESE pipeline project was conceived by Williams to cater to the increasing demand for natural gas in Northeastern US. The pipeline expansion project is expected to meet the daily requirements of nearly 2.3 million homes in the New York market in time for the 2020/2021 winter heating season.

Following the FERC approval, earlier this month, Williams said that it is looking to start construction on the NESE pipeline project facilities in the fall of 2019 after receiving all the necessary regulatory approvals.