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Rover Pipeline officials continue to respond to the inadvertent release of 2 million gallons of drilling fluid in Stark County, outlining federal commission measures they have taken and will take to address concerns.
The Rover project falls within the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission because it is an interstate line carrying natural gas. There are those who voiced opposition to the Rover Pipeline during public hearings organized by FERC due to environmental concerns, and the release of drilling fluid, a slurry of bentonite clay and water, has only intensified the opposition.
Nearly 115 organizations, including Sustainable Medina County, submitted a letter to FERC asking it to halt the Rover project. Due to the spill, FERC has prohibited Energy Transfer Partners from starting any new horizontal directional drilling on the Rover project, but the environmental and advocacy groups want the entire thing shutdown.
Joey Mahmoud, executive vice president of engineering for Energy Transfer Partners, responded to FERC, writing, “Environmental stewardship is a core value of our organization. We strive in all our construction projects to utilize best practices to protect the environment.”
As a result of the spill, the company has filed a supplement to its horizontal directional drilling contingency plan. It includes:
Rover has hired GeoEngineers to analyze data and design drawings for each of project’s remaining horizontal drills, and GeoEngineers will serve as an onsite supervisory role for each drill site. It will also add personnel at these locations to better identify any spills.
Attorneys from Columbus-based Goldman & Braunstein have filed comments to FERC on behalf of the firm’s 200-plus clients who are property owners along the route. In a follow-up to a May 11 public comment, the attorneys wrote, “Rover continues to trespass on these properties by installing and leaving in place outside of the approved right-of-way sediment filtration structures constructed using straw bales. Rover’s dewatering activities also are causing damage to adjacent agricultural land. Rover is pumping excess water into saturated fields causing prolonged flooding.
“Rover is also pumping unfiltered, silt-laden waters into adjacent fields and streams. Additionally, Rover continues to violate the Agricultural Impact Mitigation Plan (‘AIMP’) by operating heavy equipment in extremely wet conditions and by cutting field drain tile and leaving it unscreened and otherwise exposed and vulnerable to contamination ….”
Dan Plumly, a partner with Critchfield Critchfield and Johnston, said just about all his clients who own property along the pipeline route have had some kind of issue, whether major or minor, with Rover.
A construction report filed in mid-May outlined some of the problems in Wayne County. There was the spill of 200 gallons of drilling fluid that was cleaned. Many of the problems listed dealt with mixing topsoils and subsoils or wetlands soils. When these issues are identified, they are immediately addressed by separating the soils. Some of the problems have been due to the rains.
“Rover Pipeline understands the concerns of Ohio farmers related to the issues caused by the unprecedented recent rainfall in the state, which have caused our construction workspace and pipeline trenches to fill with water,” spokeswoman Alexis Daniel stated in an email on May 19. “We are working with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency (FERC) and the impacted farmers to remove the water from our construction workspace as quickly and as efficiently as possible, while at the same time avoiding and minimizing impacts to crops and working within the bounds of our certificated right-of-way as approved by FERC.”
Reporter Bobby Warren can be reached at 330-287-1639 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He is @BobbyWarrenTDR on Twitter.