A natural-gas transmission company was told by state regulators Tuesday to address alleged violations of the state Clean Streams Law that inspectors allegedly uncovered in Washington County and neighboring county along a pipeline that exploded in Beaver County last month.
The state Department of Environmental Protection ordered ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC, a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, to stop all earth-moving activities immediately.
“This action stems from the September 10, 2018, Revolution Pipeline explosion in Center Township, Beaver County. The Revolution Pipeline is not currently in operation,” DEP officials said in a statement.
The agency is investigating environmental aspects of the matter and the company’s permit compliance, while the Public Utility Commission takes the lead on the probe of the explosion. DEP said it cooperated with PUC on aspects of its respective inquiries.
Media outlets reported the explosion in a section of 24-inch pipeline caused no injuries but did prompt an evacuation of nearby homes and sent a fireball into the air. It had been online for a week.
It’s not currently in operation, DEP said. In the last few weeks, it added, the agency has “collected and subpoenaed documents, interviewed witnesses and inspected the explosion site and the entire length of the pipeline” as part of an ongoing investigation.
The inspections turned up problems reportedly caused by pipeline activities in Smith and Robinson townships in Washington County, as well as other municipalities in Butler, Allegheny and Beaver counties.
Among the waterways that were allegedly affected were Raccoon Creek and an unnamed tributary.
“The inspections discovered violations including unreported landslides, impacts to aquatic resources, construction activities occurring in unpermitted areas, and several sections of the pipeline that required the installation of additional measures to prevent accelerated erosion,” the agency said. “DEP issued the field order to address these violations.”
It’s not the first time the project has raised the antennae of environmental regulators, according to Energy Transfer’s filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In June 2018, the pipeline subsidiary entered into a consent order and agreement with DEP pursuant to which the company agreed to pay the agency $145,250 to settle allegations it had caused “discharge into, and erosion of the stream bed of Raccoon Creek” in Center during pipeline construction, said one disclosure.
The more than 100-mile system is intended to convey natural gas liquids from well sites to the Revolution processing plant in Smith Township.
DEP ordered Energy Transfer to take measures that include temporarily stabilizing the disturbed areas within four days and putting up markers for the affected area, plus updating its post-construction stormwater management and erosion and sediment control plans.
“The order prohibits additional construction and field work without DEP approval. DEP may take additional enforcement actions including possible civil penalties,” the agency said.
Energy Transfer spokeswoman Alexis Daniel said in an email the company remains in “continued communication” with DEP.
“We have been and will continue to comply with their orders,” she wrote, adding that the safety of the surrounding area is “our first priority.”