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ETC Ordered to Keep Gas Out of Unstable Parts of Revolution Pipeline
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 11/18/2020

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an order to prevent ETC Northeast Pipeline, LLC (ETC) from putting natural gas in unstable sections of the Revolution Pipeline located in Butler, Beaver, Allegheny and Washington counties.

Twice in recent weeks, ETC informed DEP that the company intends to put the Revolution Pipeline into service but did not identify when gas would be placed into the pipeline. DEP has been in regular contact with ETC regarding the stability of the pipeline and DEP's concerns that placing natural gas and liquids into unstable sections of the pipeline endangers people and the environment.

On September 10, 2018, a landslide occurred along the Revolution Pipeline in Center Township, Beaver County. When the landslide occurred, a section of the pipeline separated, allowing methane gas to escape from the pipeline. The gas ignited, causing a fire that burned several acres of forested areas; destroyed a single-family home, a barn, and numerous vehicles; resulted in the evacuation of nearby residents; and caused six high voltage electric transmission towers to collapse. In January 2020, DEP executed a consent order and agreement (COA) and assessed a $30.6 million civil penalty against ETC.

There are currently numerous unstable slopes along the pipeline route, although ETC received approval to permanently stabilize several of these areas beginning in April 2020. 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. This would cause a significant pollution event and pose a great danger to human health, safety and the environment.

DEP has found ETC to be in violation of the COA's requirements to propose and implement designs that achieve an adequate factor of safety where ETC constructed the Revolution Pipeline across steep slopes and hillsides and there is a higher risk of instability and slope failures. ETC failed to submit the required stability designs and the company repeatedly stated to DEP that it has no intention of doing so. DEP also issued a notice of violation in June 2019 for ETC's deficient proposed preparedness, prevention, and contingency (PPC) plan, which ETC has still not revised and submitted for DEP approval.

This order specifically requires ETC 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 with a design that achieves the agreed upon factor of safety. The order also requires that ETC develop and submit an adequate PPC plan that protects the public and environment by describing how the contents of the Revolution Pipeline would be removed in a safe and environmentally protective manner prior to permanent stabilization in the event of leak, release or catastrophic incident like a landslide.

This order will remain in effect until DEP issues written approval of ETC's stability design and issues a written determination that the stability analyses and permanent stabilization plans have been fully implemented.

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