Category Archives: Pipes

Flood Carries MVP Pipe Section Off Site

The Roanoke Times reported on October 12, 2018, that flooding from rains the day before carried two 80-foot sections of pipe off the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s right of way onto Dale Angle’s land.   The sections had been left in the right of way before being set in the nearby trench.  “Both had clearly crossed a boundary line drawn earlier this year when Mountain Valley used its legal power of eminent domain to obtain an easement through Angle’s land, despite his fervent opposition.”

Although construction crews can do what then want on the easement, they must have permission to enter a landowner’s adjoining property.

“‘They called this morning wanting me to sign a permission slip’ that would allow company workers onto his property to retrieve two 80-foot sections of steel pipe that floated away, Angle said Friday. ‘I said I couldn’t do it right now. They’ve done destroyed enough of my property. I’m not going to let them do it again.'”

An MVP Spokesperson had few details about how the company might reclaim the lost pipe.

Read the full article here.

PHMSA and the Safe Storage of Pipe

In late April 2018 we posted an article on Bill Limpert’s letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in which he raised a number of questions about the long term storage issues with pipes for pipelines, specifically, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and the many reasons we know pipe cannot be stockpiled long-term without grave consequences.

Limpert has continued to research the safety of the pipes that are planned for the ACP, and asked Senator Warner’s office to get involved. Chris Monioudis, of Warner’s office, sent a letter to PHMSA on Limpert’s behalf. After receiving the email quoted below from Limpert, Monioudis said he would send another letter to PHMSA asking them to fully answer the questions. [Note: Limpert also asked Kaine, Van Hollen, Cardin, and Raskin to investigate and sign onto a request for an investigation from PHMSA, but as far as he knows only Warner acted.]

Limpert (and others) have raised concerns about the fact that all of the pipe has been stored outside well beyond the manufacturer’s recommendations for outdoor storage and exposure to sunlight, and inspecting a small percentage of the pipes to see if damage has occurred is not a sufficient safety assurance.

Ask questions yourself! Send your letters to:

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
820 Bear Tavern Road
West Trenton, NJ 08628
Attn: Robert Burrough, Acting Director, Eastern Region

Limpert’s email to Chris Monioudis in Senator Warner’s office begins by thanking him and Warner for contacting PHMSA on his behalf regarding ACP pipe safety, and discusses the incomplete and insufficient responses to his questions in PHMSA’s response, listing his original questions and PHMSA’s answers, followed by his (bolded) comments:

Q: Where are the pipes for the ACP being stored, and are they exposed to sunlight?
A: The pipe for the ACP are being stored at pipe laydown yards that are located in proximity to the planned route of the ACP. Due to stacking methods, only a percentage of the pipes for the ACP are exposed to direct sunlight. There are three locations in Virginia, one in North Carolina, and one in West Virginia.

What percentage of pipes are exposed to sunlight? Images of pipe storage yards that I have seen show pipes stacked no more than 4 high, which would leave 25% of the pipes exposed to sunlight. The 600 mile ACP will require around 80,000 pipes if they are all at 40 feet in length, and at 25%, 20,000 pipes would be exposed to direct sunlight.

Q: Are the pipes in contact with one another?
A: The pipes for the ACP are stored at the pipe laydown yards with rope padding placed between the pipes to prevent the pipes from coming in contact with one another.

This does not state that the pipes are not in contact with one another, only that ropes are in place. I have seen images of pipe laydown yards where the pipes were in contact.

Q: How long have the pipes been stored? Please advise the various ages of pipe by percentage and type of pipe?
A: The earliest date that pipes for the ACP were stored at a pipe laydown yard was June 10, 2016.

This does not answer the question regarding specific pipe ages and type. Additionally, the pipes were stored outside and exposed to sunlight at the Dura Bond storage yard prior to being shipped to the ACP pipe laydown yards, so there is an additional unknown duration of exposure to sunlight. Dura Bond’s website shows aerial photos of the ACP pipes stored at their location prior to being shipped to the laydown yards. So at least some of the pipes have been stored outside and exposed to sunlight for more than 2 years now. As you may recall, Joe Klesin, PHMSA inspector, advised me that two years of exposure to sunlight was unacceptable.

Q: Does Dura Bond recommend that the pipes be put into service within 9 months of manufacture, or other recommendations for storage prior to being put into service?
A: The manufacturer’s recommendation was taken into consideration for the ACP. In order to ensure that the pipes for the ACP were procured in advance of construction, the duration that the pipes will be stored at the pipe laydown yards will exceed the manufacturer’s recommendation. In response, an inspection process was developed and implemented to monitor the status of the protective coating on the pipes for the ACP. This inspection process was observed by PHMSA during the site visits of the pipe laydown yards. The results of the inspections completed to the present date (May 23, 2018) were provided to PHMSA.

This does not answer the question, but does indicate that the pipes have been stored for longer than the Dura Bond recommendation, and the answer indicates that 100% of the pipe will exceed the manufacturer’s recommended storage period. The inspection process mentioned is not a good substitute for following the manufacturers recommendations, and I am sure that not all of the pipes in the letdown have, or will be inspected. 80,000 pipes, each 40 feet long in the letdown yards will not be inspected in their entirety. Only a very small percentage of them have, or will be inspected. The results of the inspections should be made available to Senator Warner and the public.

Q: What type of corrosion protection is used on the pipe? Please specify manufacturer and name of product. If the type of corrosion protection varies, please advise how it varies per the type of pipe and the location where the pipe will be placed?
A: The pipes for the ACP were externally coated at the mill with fusion bonded epoxy. The manufacturer of the fusion bonded epoxy is 3M and the product is Scotchkote Fusion-Bonded Epoxy Coating 6233. For certain applications such us directional drill and bores, an additional abrasion resistant overcoat was applied at the mill on top of the fusion bonded epoxy.

What is the additional abrasion resistant overcoat for directional drills and borings? The ACP is proposed to be placed under many large rivers, roads, and bored under the Blue Ridge at Reed’s Gap.

Q: What is the maximum operating temperature of the pipe at 1.5 bcf/d, 2.0 bcf/d, and 2.25 bcf/d?
A: Per established DETI standards, the maximum operating temperature limit for the pipes for the ACP that are externally coated at the mill with Scotchkote Fusion-Bonded Epoxy Coating 6233 is 140″ F.

I accept this answer, although I should have asked what the expected operating temperatures for the ACP would be, and of course they did not state it.

Q: Has any consideration been given to increased pipe temperatures due to heated groundwater in some karst areas? There is a large active hot spring near our home.
A: A geohazards study was completed for the ACP to evaluate the impact of geohazards on the construction of the ACP.

This answer is exceptionally deceptive. I’ve read the geohazards study for the ACP, and there is no mention of the geothermal features regarding their potential impacts to pipe safety along the route.

Q: What pipe is made from foreign steel, what is the country or countries of origin, and where will that pipe be located?
A: The steel utilized for the manufacturing of the pipes for the ACP were sourced from the following countries:
– United States of America
– South Korea

This does not fully answer the question. I would like to know what percentage of pipe is built from foreign steel.

The letter advises that “PHMSA has conducted 10 construction inspections of the ACP, and has not found improper backfill…”. I am not aware of any pipe installation for the ACP to date, so this comment is extremely puzzling. I have asked Mr. Burrough about this in an e-mail, but he has not responded.

The letter then states that PHMSA does not have jurisdiction for the siting of pipelines. I was knowledgeable about this already, and I’ve got to question why the agency that has the expertise regarding pipeline safety does not have authority over the siting of the pipelines, particularly a pipeline like the ACP, which according to the USGS, would traverse extreme slopes, and many miles of landslide prone terrain, as well as many miles of karst terrain, with sinkholes, caverns, and underground voids.

This usurpation of PHMSA’s pipeline safety responsibilities by FERC was all too apparent when we showed PHMSA inspector Joe Klesin the large and dangerous landslide just 250 feet from the top of Little Mountain where pipeline construction is planned and would require extensive blasting. FERC approved the pipeline in this dangerous setting. Mr. Klesin responded by saying that pipeline companies can put pipelines just about anywhere they want to now.

The letter then mentions Dominion’s Geohazard Analysis Program, Steep Slope Management Program, and Slip, Avoidance Identification, Prevention, and Remediation Policy and Procedure, all of which have been approved by FERC in their overall approval of the ACP. Once again, FERC is approving these safety protocols, rather than PHMSA, whose expertise is safety.


Limpert concludes his email by discussing safety matters specific to his Bath County property, by saying he thinks Mr. Burrough, Mr. Klesin, and other PHMSA employees are doing the best they can with limited resources and overwhelming workload, and by thanking Monioudis and Senator Warner for their interest and help.

Pipe Storage: Write to PHMSA

Bill Limpert in Bath County has written to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the US Department of Transportation agency responsible for developing and enforcing regulations for the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of the nation’s pipeline infrastructure. With his permission, we are sharing his letter.  He urges others to write their own letters to PHMSA about the long term storage issues with pipes, and the many reasons we know pipe cannot be stockpiled or stored long-term without grave consequences.

Send letters to:
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
820 Bear Tavern Road
West Trenton, NJ 08628
Attn: Robert Burrough, Acting Director, Eastern Region

Here is Bill Limpert’s excellent letter:

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
820 Bear Tavern Road
West Trenton, NJ 08628
Attn: Robert Burrough
Acting Director, Eastern Region
Re: Atlantic Coast Pipeline Pipe Safety
April 17, 2018

Dear Mr. Burrough:

I am writing to you to request a PHMSA investigation into unsafe storage practices, and other safety concerns regarding the pipes that are proposed for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

I am concerned about the protective corrosion prevention coating on the pipes being damaged by exposure to sunlight, or by other means, including vandalism, or contact with other stored pipes. I am also concerned about the use of cheap foreign steel in these pipes.

Dura Bond advises that the pipes for the ACP were produced from late 2015 through March, 2017. So all of the pipes are over a year old, and some are over two years old. The ACP is already a year behind schedule, and has not received all necessary permits to begin construction. Even under the revised schedule, some of these pipes will not be placed into the ground until late 2019, and that optimistic time frame remains uncertain.

I have been advised that Dura-Bond, the manufacturer of the pipes for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, states that the pipes should not be left in sunlight for more than 9
months, and we are already well past that time frame.

Pipes for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline were found to be stored outside, in direct sunlight, and subject to other adverse weather conditions in Charlottesville Virginia as early as July of 2016. These pipes were also in an unsecured location where vandals or others could access and damage them.

I have seen images of a very large pipe storage location in an open field near Beckley, West Virginia, near the intersection of Routes 19 and I-77. These images can be found on the cover and first page of the April/May 2018 edition of The Appalachian Voice. These images show very large pipes stacked 4 high, and likely in direct contact with pipes above, below, and on either side. I am concerned that this apparent direct contact with other very heavy pipes will damage the exterior corrosion protection.

I am also concerned about foreign steel in the ACP pipes, and I recall that PHMSA was forced to require replacement of foreign steel pipes some years ago due to inferior and unsafe steel.

Joseph Klesin of your office kindly visited us on October 31, 2017, and we enjoyed spending time with him. I discussed my concerns with pipes stored in the open at that time. Mr. Klesin advised that pipes stored in the open for one year would probably lose 1 or 2 millimeters of external corrosion protection due to exposure to sunlight. He advised that this was within the acceptable safety range of corrosion protection loss. He further advised that leaving pipes exposed to sunlight for two years would constitute an unacceptable safety risk.

During that visit Mr. Klesin also advised that pipeline companies are not required to backfill the pipeline trench with soil, as is shown on the typical drawings in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s environmental impact statement for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. He stated that the trench could be backfilled with crushed rock. This conversation was prompted by my pointing out that there is very little soil on the proposed 3,000 foot long path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on steep and narrow Miracle Ridge on my property. I believe that crushed rock could damage the pipe’s external corrosion protection in any location, and particularly under the pressure of 25 feet of rock overburden in a trench on an extremely steep slope of up to 58% as would be required to place the pipeline through our property. Similar extreme conditions exist elsewhere in Western Virginia and West Virginia.

Please investigate and advise me of the following:

– Where are the pipes for the ACP being stored, and are they exposed to sunlight?
– Are the pipes in contact with one another?- How long have the pipes been stored? Please advise the various ages of pipe by percentage and type of pipe.
– Does Dura Bond recommend that the pipes be put into service within 9 months of manufacture, or other recommendations for storage prior to being put into service?
– What type of corrosion protection is used on the pipe? Please specify manufacturer and name of product. If the type of corrosion protection varies, please advise how it varies per the type of pipe and the location where the pipe will be placed.
– What is the maximum operating temperature of the pipe at 1.5 bcf/d, 2.0 bcf/d, and 2.25 bcf/d?
– Has any consideration been given to increased pipe temperatures due to heated groundwater in some karst areas? There is a large active hot spring near our home.
– What pipe is made of foreign steel, what is the country or countries of origin, and where will that pipe be located?

These issues are very important to my wife and I, our neighbors, and many others in the zone of incineration, the evacuation zone, and otherwise on, or near the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The extreme terrain in our area, and other areas of Western Virginia and West Virginia makes pipeline safety even more important. The pipeline would be placed on our property and in Little Valley on extreme slopes with recent landslides within several hundred feet of the route, narrow ridges, karst terrain with sinkholes, and under Little Valley Run, which recently flooded, and deposited many large boulders that relocated the channel within 200 feet of the proposed crossing. Just two days ago another large flood resulted in out of bank flow on many of the proposed stream crossings in our area. As we have previously advised, my wife and I, and a number of our neighbors are located in the zone of incineration for the pipeline, and we would be trapped in the evacuation zone at the head of the valley if we initially survived a pipeline incident, with no chance of rescue.

Additionally, the reduced pipeline safety regulations, remoteness, and fewer emergency response resources for rural areas like ours leave us at greater risk that those in more populated areas.

In my opinion, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been less than professional and forthright in their response to the many responsibilities they have in preparing to undertake this dangerous project. In case after case, they have failed to provide needed information and analysis to regulatory agencies. They have repeatedly cut corners to their benefit, and at public expense. I am concerned that they are doing the same regarding pipeline safety.

Please note that I am still attempting to have Dominion conduct a geohazard survey on our property, and I will be sending yet another letter to Dominion to try to accomplish that. Should Dominion finally make that inspection, I will advise you and Mr. Klesin. Mr. Klesin previously advised that he would like to participate in that inspection, and I would like him, or another PHMSA representative to be there if at all possible.

Thank you again for your assistance, and your public service.