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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Ohio EPA Slams Rover Pipeline for 'Pattern' of Spills

Posted By on Tue, May 9, 2017 at 11:40 AM

[image-1]The Ohio EPA is getting fed up with Energy Transfers' handling of its newly certified Rover natural gas pipeline. On top of a list of blunders, the pipeline has already spilled millions of gallons of drilling fluid into wetlands near Navarre, Ohio.

Craig Butler, the director of the Ohio EPA, said the agency has been piling on tens of thousands of dollars in fines — and construction of the $4.2-billion pipeline only began in March. (Rover has yet to actually pay any of those fines.)

Butler told the Washington Post that Energy Transfers' response has been "'dismissive,' 'exceptionally disappointing' and unlike any other response he has seen from a company."

The drilling fluid is mostly bentonite, which is a non-toxic mud-like substance that the Ohio EPA nonetheless classifies as a pollutant. The spill in Navarre is one of 18 spills in the first two months of Rover's construction. The Ohio EPA has begun calling it a "pattern," and warns that the biggest spill (in Navarre) could reach more than 5 million gallons.

According to the Post, "the biggest spill has poured fluid the consistency of a milkshake a couple of feet deep in a previously pristine wetland and would 'kill just about everything in that wetland,' Butler said. The company is trying to remove the material by vacuum and even by hand, Butler said."

(Energy Transfers, of course, is the same company that oversaw the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline controversy, which controversy was most recently tamped down by the signing of President Donald Trump's Week-One executive order expediting the permit process.)

We've reported on the controversies that follow pipeline construction in Ohio. Rover was granted certification to begin construction right before a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman resigned, leaving FERC without a quorum. Nexus, a pipeline project run by Spectra Energy, has yet to win a certificate. That pipeline would run along a similar route as Rover.

Trump plans on nominating two Republicans to FERC in the very near future. The Senate must first confirm the nominees.

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