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DEP Imposes $30.6 Million Penalty for Beaver County Pipeline Explosion

Energy Transfer Partners will pay a $30.6 million civil penalty imposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in connection with the 2018 explosion and fire along the Revolution Pipeline in Beaver County.

The penalty announced earlier this month is one of the largest single settlements collected by DEP, and will allow the Texas-based pipeline company to resume getting environmental permits for the project, which DEP halted early last year after the company failed to fix the problems.

“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. Their inaction led directly to this unprecedented civil penalty,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell in a press release. “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.”

A landslide occurred along the Revolution Pipeline in Center Township, Beaver County on Sept. 10, 2018, causing a section of the pipeline to separate and explode. The resulting fire destroyed a home, a barn and vehicles. While there were no injuries, residents of the area were forced to evacuate for days.

A DEP investigation determined that Energy Transfer had not stabilized a number of areas along the pipeline, and failed to implement controls to address stormwater runoff, impacting streams and wetlands along the right of way.

DEP ordered Energy Transfer to fix the problems but it failed to do so for months. The agency then barred the company from receiving any new permits in February, holding up several pipeline projects, including repair of the Revolution pipeline and stabilization work along the troubled Mariner East 2, which has been blamed for sinkholes in several eastern Pennsylvania counties and has drawn $12 million in DEP fines.

The 40-mile long Revolution pipeline takes gas from wells in Beaver and Butler counties to a gas processing plant in Washington County. The Mariner East 2 travels 350 miles from Scio, Ohio, through Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook industrial complex in Delaware County.

In August, DEP revoked some of the Beaver County Conservation District’s permitting powers after an audit showed that it did a poor job overseeing many projects, including the Revolution and several other natural gas pipelines being built there.

Under a consent order between DEP and Energy Transfer, $28.6 million will go to the Oil and Gas Program Fund and Clean Water Fund for oil and gas development oversight and $2 million will go toward DEP-approved community environmental projects.

A new management team was put in place by Energy Transfer for the Revolution Pipeline and Dec. 13 DEP approved a plan to address landslides, erosion, sedimentation and stream impacts, and permanently stabilize the pipeline route.

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