WILMINGTON -- Town officials aren't rushing to judgment on the proposed Kinder Morgan natural-gas pipeline that may run through Wilmington, after a preliminary meeting with selectmen Thursday night.
Kinder Morgan, a major natural-gas transporter, sent representatives to the board's meeting to talk to town staff and officials about the proposed section of the pipeline that would run through Wilmington.
After the presentation, selectmen chose not to vote on whether to join the Middlesex County Coalition of Municipalities, a group that opposes the pipeline project. The board, however, decided as a whole to take more time to gather information about the project.
"I don't think we have enough information at this stage in the game to step up and say 'No this shouldn't happen,' " said Selectman Michael Champoux.
Kinder Morgan is proposing a new pipeline to run from upstate New York to Dracut, to meet what company officials say is a growing demand for natural gas.
Under the current plans, 2.8 miles of pipeline is being proposed to run through the section of Wilmington east of I-93.
Kinder Morgan representative Alan Fore said the pipeline would affect 29 property owners in Wilmington.
However, no residents appeared to have attended the meeting to speak about the proposed project.
Fore said pre-filing for permits for the pipeline construction wouldn't begin until the fall and official filings are still a year away. At the earliest, Fore said the pipeline would not begin operating until 2018.
"To reiterate, we are at a very early stage in this process," said Fore. "There is still ample opportunity for public discourse."
Town Manager Jeff Hull asked Fore and other Kinder Morgan representatives about various aspects of the project including how it would affect town properties. Fore said that about 4 to 6 town parcels would be affected.
Champoux asked about the safety of the natural-gas pipelines. Representatives from the company spoke about the various failsafes that exist to ensure pipeline breaks can be prevented or identified before they become a problem.
Of the 29 property owners asked for permission to conduct surveys on their land in preparation for pipeline construction, 23 agreed to allow the company access, four said no and two are undecided.