Aug. 27–A Texas-based company has been fined $150,000 by the state Department of Environmental Protection and will be forced to monitor a section of Raccoon Creek for at least five years after damaging an area in Center Township.
Energy Transfer Partners, which constructed the Revolution Pipeline across western Pennsylvania, was handed down the fines in a consent decree order issued by the DEP in late June. The 20-page report outlined numerous violations of the state’s Clean Stream Law and Encroachments Act.
The Revolution Pipeline, which spans 40 miles and 690 acres across Butler, Beaver and Washington counties, will transport natural gas liquids from Jackson Township in Butler County to a cryogenic processing facility in Smith Township in Washington County.
The Beaver County portion of the project carries the pipeline through New Sewickley, Conway, Center, Raccoon and Independence townships. The portion of Raccoon Creek damaged by the pipeline company is located in Center Township near Bunker Hill Road.
According to the DEP document, one of the bigger issues involved a “significant loss of streambank” on Raccoon Creek after a major rain event caused flooding in the area.
Energy Transfer Partners had installed a diversion channel to bypass a portion of Raccoon Creek to allow for pipeline construction in the area. According to the document, the company installed “road plates to assist in diverting Raccoon Creek towards the diversion channel.”
“During the two-inch rainstorm (on Jan. 11) the road plates directed water towards the eastern stream bank of Raccoon Creek, resulting in a significant loss of the streambank,” the document stated. “The stream bank has continued to erode and the loss of stream bank spans approximately 291 (linear feet.)”
In addition to the stream bank erosion, observers noticed five instances from November to February where ETC “caused pollution to waters of the Commonwealth … by discharging sediment-laden water from the site to Raccoon Creek and an (unnamed tributary) to Raccoon Creek.”
Finally, ETC at the end of January placed “spoiled material” on a hillside on the western side of Raccoon Creek. Lauren Fraley, a spokeswoman for the DEP, said the agency defined spoiled material as “excavated or dredged material.”
According to the DEP document, ETC on Jan. 24 “allowed the spoiled material to slide downslope into Raccoon Creek.”
On Feb. 14, it was observed that the spoiled material was “continuing to slide downslope, but it did not enter Raccoon Creek.” Five days later, however, officials with the Beaver County Conservation District observed that the spoiled material had entered the creek.
Because of those violations, DEP fined the company $145,250 in a civil penalty as well as nearly $5,000 to the DEP and Beaver County Conservation District.
Of that, $48,000 will go toward DEP’s Dams and Encroachment Fund, another $99,707 will go to DEP’s Clean Water Fund, and $2,535 will go to the Beaver County Conservation District.
In addition, the company will be required to monitor “permanent stream restoration for at least five years.” The company must submit reports to DEP every six months for the next two years, then annually for three years following that.
Finally, DEP said the company will be fined $500 daily if it’s found to be in violation of any aspect of the remediation plan.
Jim Shaner, the executive director of the Beaver County Conservation District, said Monday that he remembers the Revolution Pipeline project having “issues, especially during heavy rains in the winter.”
“They had open dirt in the area and all their efforts to contain it were failing,” he said. “They tried one thing and it wasn’t working, and they tried something else and it wasn’t working. We had to bring DEP in on several occasions to assist in inspections on how to correct the issues.”
He added that “hopefully the company will be able to do everything (the DEP) order says in a timely manner.”
Alexis Daniel, a spokeswoman for Energy Transfer Partners, said Monday that “protection of the environment remains a top priority for our company.”
“Restoration of the area will be done in accordance with all permits, certificates and approvals,” she said.
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