Bruce Estrella, Program Coordinator
The "HubLine" natural gas pipeline was constructed by Algonquin Gas Transmission Company in Massachusetts Bay during 2002-2003. This 29.4 mile long, 24" to 30" diameter pipe runs from Salem/Beverly to Weymouth and is buried at a minimum depth of 3 ft. with several exceptions. Horizontal directional drilling, conventional dredging, jetting, plowing, and blasting were all part of the construction process and collectively, they were assumed to have exerted an impact on the marine environment and living resources. Depending upon the type of equipment used, the area of disturbed sediments along the pipeline pathway caused by trenching and back-filling varied to as wide as ~70ft.
Specific Time-Of-Year (TOY) work windows were defined in the permitting process by the reviewing agencies in order to minimize the impact of construction activities on marine resources. The extension of work beyond the recommended TOY work windows end dates of 30 April 2003 and 31 May 2003 resulted in a Consent Order and Notice of Non-Compliance between the Department of Environmental Protection and Algonquin which defined compensation to the Commonwealth by Algonquin for mitigation and restoration for any short or long-term impacts to aquatic resources and habitat and for assessment.
The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MarineFisheries) was designated as the lead agency with the responsibility to provide effective mitigation and/or restoration of aquatic resources and habitat in response to potential HubLine construction impacts.
A Marine Fisheries internal steering committee was chosen to provide initial guidance to the HubLine mitigation and restoration program and a public process was implemented by November 2003 to solicit input on mitigation/restoration project ideas. We defined the public process to include a public announcement and comment period during October 28- November 28, 2003 and the creation of an Inter-Agency Steering Committee to seek input from interested stakeholders and relevant state and federal agencies.