The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last month proposed a large fine against the builder of a pipeline that runs through a portion of Fulton County.
FERC ordered Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. and its subsidiary, Rover Pipeline, LLC, to explain why it should not pay a $40 million civil penalty for alleged violations of the Natural Gas Act, Commission regulations and the pipeline’s certificate order during construction of its 711 mile-long interstate natural gas pipeline.
An investigation by FERC’s Office of Enforcement concluded that Rover “intentionally and routinely” included diesel fuel and other toxic substances and unapproved additives in the drilling mud during its horizontal directional drilling (HDD) operation under the Tuscarawas River in Stark County, Ohio.
FERC said the investigation also concluded that Rover failed to adequately monitor the right-of-way at the site of the HDD operation and improperly disposed of inadvertently released drilling mud that was contaminated with diesel fuel and hydraulic oil.
In April 2017, shortly after Rover began its HDD operation under the Tuscarawas River, a large inadvertent release of 2 million gallons of drilling mud reached the ground surface and flowed into a nearby protected wetland. Testing of the release conducted by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency found petroleum hydrocarbons consistent with diesel fuel.
The Enforcement staff report alleges that crews employed by Rover’s contractors added toxic diesel fuel, hydraulic oil, contaminated containment fluids, and non-toxic but unapproved lubricants to combat drilling difficulties and keep up with drilling progress demands. It further alleges these violations were the product of a corporate culture favoring speed and construction progress over regulatory compliance that Rover pressed upon its contractors, and that its contractors in turn imposed on subcontractors and HDD crews.
“I have long said that the Commission will remain vigilant in ensuring that the holder of a certificate of public convenience and necessity is in full compliance with every condition of that certificate,” Chairman Glick said. “I commend the Office of Enforcement staff for taking this important step to ensure the Commission has a full record in this matter.”
The 713-mile Rover pipeline wends its way through Chesterfield, Franklin, German, and Dover townships in Fulton County. The 42-inch pipeline daily transports up to 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
Energy Transfer Partners and Rover have 30 days to respond to the Commission’s show cause order. The Commission’s Enforcement staff will then have 30 days to reply to Rover’s filing.