Construction on the West Virginia portion of the problem-plagued $4.2 billion Rover natural gas pipeline has been halted for the second time in nine months for failure to meet state water pollution control permit requirements.
The March 5 cease-and-desist order from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection cited project owner Energy Transfer Partners with a total of 14 violations stemming from inspections at separate locations in three counties. The violations include absent or improperly maintained erosion control measures, excessive sediment deposits, use of unacceptable best management practices and failure to inspect or clean public roads around work areas. Improperly stowed trash and construction debris was also found at several locations.
An agency spokesperson did not disclose whether inspections documenting the violations were part of routine agency project surveillance or a response to a specific report. Energy Transfer Partners has until March 25 to submit a corrective action plan for agency approval.
An Energy Transfer Partners spokesman said "We continue to work with the FERC and the West Virginia DEP to resolve any outstanding concerns in a manner that ensures the complete remediation of the areas to the satisfaction of all parties. To help ensure this, we have added additional resources and environmental crews."
Designed to transport 3.25 billion cu ft of natural gas per day from the Marcellus and Utica shale beds to Michigan, the 713-mile Rover Pipeline has encountered a host of other environmental problems since construction began in March 2017. An April 2017 spill of approximately 2 million gallons of bentonite-based drilling fluid fouled a 6.5-acre wetland in Stark County, Ohio, leading state regulars to suspend the project’s use of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) in November. Earlier this year, another 148,000 gallons of drilling fluid was discharged at the same location.
Energy Transfer Partners’ refusal to pay fines from the April spill and other reported incidents in more than a dozen Ohio counties led the state environmental protection agency to file a $2.3 million lawsuit to recover cleanup costs. Energy Transfer Partners, which also owns the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, says on its website that the Rover pipeline is 99% complete and expected to go into service during the second quarter of 2018.