By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A public hearing is scheduled for tonight in West Chester, on the issue of whether a pipeline company should be able to dig in to the Brandywine Creek, or go underneath it.

The hearing will be the last opportunity for the public to comment on the project.

Texas-based Williams Transcontinental received permission to enlarge a natural gas pipeline that runs under the Creek, two years ago, but was told it would have to drill down below the creek to do it. The company has re-applied, hoping the Department of Environmental Protection will reverse itself and let them dig directly into the creek. A spokesman says it’s the most efficient way to do it.

But environmentalists, like Delaware Riverkeeper Maya von Ostrum, plan to testify that the so-called open trench method would harm the creek.

“We are hopeful that the DEP is going to give the public a fair hearing on this proposed project, which is going to set precedent for pipelines and how they’re allowed to cross our waterways.”

DEP spokesperson Deborah Fries says the agency will take all information into consideration.

“The additional technical review will go on for some time as will the review of the comments that we receive.”

The hearing is on the ground-floor theater of the student union building at West Chester University. It begins with a presentation by Williams Transco at 5p.m. Public comments will be taken from 7 to 9 p.m.

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