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article imageRover pipeline spills at 18 - And its still under construction

By Karen Graham     May 12, 2017 in Environment
Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) has been fined $430,000 by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) for environment pollution violations. They are also under fire from federal and state regulators for an additional seven of 18 other violations.
The eight violations all occurred during the first seven weeks of construction of the $4.2 billion Rover natural gas pipeline project that will move 3.25 billion cubic feet per day from Pennsylvania to Michigan, according to Nasdaq.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is now involved. On Wednesday, FERC sent a letter to Energy Transfer Partners, the Rover pipeline operator, ordering it to not begin construction on any new locations, stop construction at the site of the major wetlands spill, as well as to hire an independent contractor to investigate what went wrong there, reports Inside Climate News.
In the FERC letter, federal regulators wrote: "Staff has serious concerns regarding the magnitude of the incident (which was several orders of magnitude greater than other documented [horizontal directional drilling] inadvertent returns for this project), its environmental impacts, the lack of clarity regarding the underlying reasons for its occurrence, and the possibility of future problems."
This wetlands area is part of a restoration project in Ohio.  The new wetlands are similar to those ...
This wetlands area is part of a restoration project in Ohio. The new wetlands are similar to those that naturally occur in southwest Ohio
Wetland Mitigation Phase II Natural Resource Restoration Design Plan
The phrase "inadvertent returns" is an industry phrase that describes a certain type of spill or release of construction material. The FERC letter was sent out less than a week after the OEPA proposed the $430,000 fine for ETP's damage to "pristine wetlands." It should be noted that on the day the OEPA reached out to the pipeline builder, they also asked FERC to step in.
According to the Ohio EPA, there has been a total of 18 spill incidents since the construction of the Rover pipeline began in mid-February that included mud spills from drilling, open burning, and storm-water pollution. Some of the major incidents included the public water system in one community being affected, 50,000 gallons of bentonite mud being released into a protected wetland area about 30,000 square feet in size in Mifflin Township, as well as a release of 200 gallons of mud in another county.
ETP did not deny the charges put forth by the OEPA, saying instead that "accidental" releases of bentonite mud were to be expected during the drilling process. They have also claimed that there was no threat to the environment due to the spills.
Route of Rover Pipeline through Ohio.
Route of Rover Pipeline through Ohio.
Energy Transfer Partners
In an email statement to Think Progress, a spokesperson for ETP said: “We have placed a great deal of focus and importance on our construction and mitigation efforts. We are not out of compliance with any of our permits. It is unfortunate that the Ohio EPA has misrepresented the situation and misstated facts in its recent comments.”
The spokesperson went on to say, the bentonite discharge “is a mixture of naturally occurring bentonite clay and water and is safe for the environment." What the ETP spokesperson failed to mention was the Ohio EPA's fact sheet issued by the Division of Water in 2013 that specifically gives directions for the "Disposal of Horizontal Directional Drilling Wastes and Protection of Water Resources."
According to the regulations for the state of Ohio, ETP was and is in violation of the regulations. But the worst thing that Energy Transfer Partners is alleged to have done was to tell Ohio regulators that the state lacks the “authority to enforce violations of its federally delegated state water pollution control statutes.” Now that's brazen, wouldn't you think?
More about Energy Transfer Partners, rover pipeline, Spills, Wetlands, bentonite slurry
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