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PENDLETON – A public information meeting on the proposed enlargement of a natural gas pipeline through southern Niagara County is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Wendelville Fire Company hall, 7340 Campbell Blvd., Pendleton.

National Fuel, owner of the Empire Pipeline, is seeking federal approval for four miles of new pipe through Wheatfield and Pendleton. The new line would be 24 inches in diameter, an increase from the current 16 inches.

National Fuel spokeswoman Karen L. Merkel said the public and the towns have a chance to comment on the project, and a representative from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will be on hand to listen to the feedback. His job will be to decide if a formal scoping session is needed on the project, Merkel said.

Besides the bigger pipeline, the plan, dubbed Northern Access 2016 in reference to the year in which construction is expected, includes installation of a new 15,000-horsepower compression station in Pendleton to push the gas along, and a new natural gas dehydration, or water removal, facility to be built in Wheatfield.

The planned four miles of new Empire pipe will replace 3.3 miles of existing National Fuel local gas supply pipe and seven-tenths of a mile of the Empire line itself, according to a fact sheet to be posted on National Fuel’s website.

Thursday’s meeting is part of the preliminary route review process. The local work is part of an overall $410 million upgrade of the pipeline system.

Empire Pipeline also is seeking a permit to build 97 miles of new pipeline from its Porterville Commpressor Station in Elma to McKean County, Pa., and to build a new connection to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline in the Town of Wales.

Under another request to FERC, Empire also seeks to build 17 miles of new pipeline in Steuben County, and to replace compressor wheels at a station in Oakfield, Genesee County.

The Empire Pipeline opened in 1993 to import Canadian natural gas. It meets the Trans-Canada Pipeline in the Niagara River off Chippawa, Ont., and continues east for 157 miles, ending northwest of Syracuse.

The pipeline has an additional 92-mile route from Rochester to Jackson, Pa., and a 77-mile lateral that connects it to another pipeline in Corning.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com