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DEP issues historic $30.6M penalty over Revolution Pipeline violations

HARRISBURG — The state Department of Environmental Protection issued a $30.6 million civil penalty to ETC Northeast Pipeline for violations related to the 2018 Revolution Pipeline explosion and fire in Beaver County.

The penalty, one of the largest civil penalties collected in a single settlement, was announced on Friday.

“ETC’s lack of oversight during construction of the Revolution Pipeline and their failure to comply with DEP’s October 2018 compliance order demanded serious accountability,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “DEP is committed to holding permittees accountable for permit compliance and will continue to provide active and stringent oversight over the construction of their projects.”

On Sept. 10, 2018, a landslide occurred along the Revolution Pipeline in Center Township, Beaver County. When the landslide occurred, a section of the pipeline separated, allowing gas to escape from the pipeline, according to DEP. The gas ignited, causing a fire that burned several acres of forested areas; destroyed a single-family home, a barn, and numerous vehicles; resulted in the evacuation of nearby residents; and caused six high voltage electric transmission towers to collapse.

No one was harmed in this incident, DEP said.

DEP said its subsequent investigation determined that ETC, which is a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, had not stabilized a number of areas along the pipeline resulting in additional slides. ETC also failed to properly implement or maintain hundreds of best management practice controls to address stormwater runoff.

The full investigation also found that, during construction of the pipeline, ETC had illegally impacted numerous streams and wetlands along the length of the pipeline right of way.

In the Consent Order and Agreement between DEP and ETC, $28.6 million will go to the Oil and Gas Program Fund and Clean Water Fund. Revenue in those funds will buttress the department’s oversight of oil and gas development statewide, including pipeline projects, and will also provide financial assistance to water remediation projects across the state, according to DEP.

An additional $2 million will go toward a DEP-approved community environmental project or projects that will benefit the environment.

In 2019, ETC employed a new management team for the project and new consultants from Pennsylvania to address all of the outstanding issues with the project.

After a detailed review by the department, DEP recently approved, with conditions and an implementation schedule, a temporary slope stabilization plan, a landslide hazard evaluation, and an updated erosion and sedimentation control plan which are also incorporated as conditions of the agreement.

ETC also will be required to restore and mitigate stream and wetland impacts that occurred during the construction of the pipeline and to permanently stabilize all areas in and along the pipeline corridor.

As a result of the agreement, DEP will lift the nearly year-long permit bar. The Clean Streams Law permit bar, issued in February, was the broadest and longest bar to have been placed on any company in Pennsylvania.

“DEP will continue to carefully monitor ETC’s activities to ensure that ETC meets the terms of this agreement and all approved permits,” McDonnell said. “The conditions imposed by this agreement seek to ensure that ETC will get this right. Anything less is unacceptable.”

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