Kentucky gas pipeline won’t cross nuns’ land

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A proposed pipeline that would carry flammable liquids through north and central Kentucky wouldn’t cross into land owned by a group of Catholic nuns that has been outspokenly opposed to it, a pipeline company spokesman said Wednesday.

The Bluegrass Pipeline would stay north of Marion County, which is home to the Sisters of Loretto’s 780-acre property, said Tom Droege, a spokesman for Williams Co. of Tulsa, Okla.

“Now that the route is becoming more defined, we are confident we will stay well to the north of Marion County,” Droege said in an email.

The sisters earlier this year had refused to let surveyors onto their property, saying the land was sacred and that they would oppose the pipeline’s construction.

The 500-mile pipeline, being built by Williams Co. and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners of Houston, would join an existing transmission line in Breckinridge County that runs to the Gulf of Mexico.

As currently proposed, the pipeline would pass near land owned by the Abbey of Gethsemani in Nelson County, which is next to Marion County. Droege said the company is looking for a route around the monks’ land as well, since they also have not granted permission to do a survey. No one answered a telephone call to the abbey Wednesday.

The company is “looking at other options, including alternative routes,” Droege said. He said more than 90 percent of landowners along the proposed pipeline route have granted survey permission.

The 50-foot-wide easements would be acquired with one-time payments to the landowners, based on a property appraisal.

“They’re not coming through here because we said no,” Peg Jacobs, who has lived at the Loretto Motherhouse for 14 years, said Wednesday. She said the sisters would continue to oppose the pipeline, wherever the proposed route goes.

The sisters have joined landowners and environmentalists in public protests against the pipeline, saying it presents a chemical leak risk.

Some of the sisters are planning to attend a House and Senate committee meeting Thursday in Frankfort, where legislators will hear from pipeline developers about the project.

The companies have said underground transmission is safer than transporting the chemicals by rail or roadway. The material carried by the pipeline is a liquid byproduct of the natural gas refining process that is used to make plastics, medical supplies and carpet, among other products. The liquids contain flammable substances including propane, butane and ethane.