What We May Look Forward To

Several recent news articles give us a taste of things to come if the Proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines are approved.

On October 6, 2017, FrackCheckWV published an essay by S. Tom Bond listing the many reasons why Most Farmers and Land Owners Abhor Drilling & Fracking & Pipelines. “Placement of wells, access roads and pipelines destroys the surface value of the land. Well pads and roads are rocked to a depth that will support heavy trucks in any weather, often 18 inches. Drainage is changed, with new gullies formed, and silt produced and discharged into streams. ‘Reclamation’ never restores a fully productive surface. Pipelines from wells to connectors go up and down steep grades, many of them over 45 degrees. They are kept cleared for the length of the project with consequent loss of timber. They are a source of erosion, timber is lost…. These rights-of-way are attractive to trespassers, and interrupt habitat and animal migration patterns. … Building sites are foreclosed” because heavy equipment can’t cross the pipeline right of way. “Big diameter pipelines for transmission are a particular horror. They often go straight up and down hills, cutting very deep. Here in West Virginia, in many places that means cutting through solid stone. One can see both bulldozers and backhoes with special cutting blades that rotate using tungsten carbide cutting edges. And what is the back filling material? The same broken stones, since it the grade is too steep to move in material that will pack. The result is a subsurface stream along the pipeline, rock scratched protective coating on the outside of the big pipes, and plenty of oxygen and water to the steel underneath the coating to cause rusting.” And the list goes on.  And on.

On October 5, 2017, State Impact Pennsylvania reported Pipeline blasting sprayed Lebanon County home with debris, and may have spread legacy pollution. The story reports, “Blasting to remove rock for construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Lebanon County showered a home and its swimming pool with debris, and may have prompted the spread of existing underground contamination from a former gasoline depot…. “It appears that the legacy plume migrated under 322 from the north side to the south side, and the blasting brought that to the surface,’ Lloyd told [a supervisor for the township] reporters after the [public] meeting. He said Sunoco has now promised to remove contaminated soil to a depth of 10 feet from the Spangler Road site. He said he did not know the nature of the contamination. Tests on water at nearby properties found two – a private home and a chicken farm – that showed the presence of benzene and MTBE, the township said in a timeline of recent events. The report also described three spills of fluid used in horizontal directional drilling (HDD) for the pipeline in the township during September. Two of the spills prompted DEP to order a halt to drilling at those sites…. Drilling has resumed but with tougher oversite from DEP. At the time of the renewed drilling operations, Sunoco had caused 90 drilling fluid spills at 40 sites. Since then, there have been at least 15 additional spills, according to the DEP.”

Looking further ahead, conversion of pipelines to carry substances, including hazardous ones, other than the originally permitted natural gas could happen here if the proposed ACP and MVP are approved. The Lexington KY Herald reported on October 3, 2017, that Pipeline wins federal OK to carry hazardous liquids across Kentucky. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said converting the Tennessee Gas Pipeline from carrying natural gas to natural gas liquids does not ‘constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.’ … [O]pponents say they will now go to local planning authorities to ensure that there is some control should the project go forward. ‘It’s going to be up to local governments, because there really isn’t any state regulation of pipelines carrying hazardous liquids like natural gas liquids,’ Danville [KY] attorney Mark Morgan said.”