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Pa. Regulators Block Restart of Pipeline That Exploded

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has prohibited the operator of a pipeline that exploded in 2018 from putting natural gas in the line.

DEP took the step after Energy Transfer indicated that it planned to restart the line, but did not say when it would be filled with natural gas. DEP has serious concerns about the stability of certain sections of the line that travel along steep slopes in Beaver County.

The Revolution pipeline exploded in September 2018 when a landslide occurred and a section of the pipeline separated, allowing methane to escape. The gas ignited, destroying a home, burning several acres, collapsing six high-voltage electric transmission powers and displacing residents. There were no injuries.

DEP issued a consent order in January that assessed a $30.6 million civil penalty against Energy Transfer and required the company to submit revised designs for constructing the line across steep slopes. “ETC has failed to submit the required stability designs and the company repeatedly stated to DEP it has no intention of doing so,” a DEP press release states.

“There are currently numerous unstable slopes along the pipeline route, although ETC received approval to permanently stabilize several of these areas beginning in April 2020,” the release states. “If another landslide or landslides were to occur, it could displace and separate the Revolution Pipeline and the impacts could be worse that the explosion of 2018 because the pipeline’s contents would be more explosive with the addition of natural gas liquids.”

The DEP order requires Energy Transfer not to fill any section of the pipeline in areas with unstable slopes, or to remove gas or gas liquids if it has been filled, until the problem areas are permanently stabilized.

The order also found the company’s emergency preparedness plan lacking, and requires it to submit a revised plan that addresses how gas would be removed from the line in a safe and environmentally protected manner in the event of a leak or another landslide.

Energy Transfer told The Allegheny Front that it disagrees with DEP, noting that stabilization work has been done in some areas, and that an independent analysis found that other areas of the pipeline are built on stable soil.

The 40-mile long Revolution pipeline takes gas from Marcellus wells in Beaver and Butler counties to a gas processing plant in Washington County.

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