DEP halts pipeline on unstable slopes
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has taken action against a natural gas pipeline that runs through Butler County.
“This order specifically requires ETC (Northeast Pipeline) to cease, discontinue and not allow placement of and/or remove natural gas and any natural gas-related fluids in any section of the Revolution Pipeline located in areas with unstable slopes that are not permanently stabilized,” said a DEP news release Thursday.
ETC is headquartered in Clarksburg, W.Va., but the company's Revolution Pipeline runs 40.5 miles, carrying natural gas between two processing facilities. The line runs through Butler, Allegheny, Beaver and Washington counties.
The 24-inch-wide pipe enters the county in the southwest corner and runs diagonally to the northeast corner.
The DEP issued the order Wednesday, citing a lack of compliance with a consent order and agreement issued in January.
“In this order, the department directs ETC to take measures to ensure that another catastrophic breach of the Revolution Pipeline does not occur as happened on Sept. 10, 2018, when the steep slope that the pipeline rested upon became unstable,” the order said, referring to an explosion on the pipeline in Beaver County.
The explosion in Center Township, Beaver County, burned forest area; destroyed a single-family home, a barn and multiple vehicles; caused an evacuation of residents and caused six high voltage electric transmission towers to collapse.
“When the landslide occurred, a section of the pipeline separated, allowing methane gas to escape from the pipeline,” the release said. “The gas ignited, causing a fire.”
In the agreement, the company promised to address safety concerns before putting the pipeline back into service. A civil penalty of $30.6 million came along with the agreement.
On Thursday, the DEP claimed ETC violated the agreement requirements to “propose and implement designs that achieve an adequate factor of safety.” The DEP also claimed the company does not have an adequate plan for the cleanup of a catastrophic event.
“If another landslide or landslides were to occur, it could displace and separate the Revolution Pipeline and the impacts could be worse than the explosion in 2018 because the pipeline's contents would be more explosive with the addition of natural gas liquids,” the release said.
According to the release, the order will remain until DEP issues written approval of ETC's stability design and its permanent stabilization plans.
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