Local Group Weighs In On Pipeline Response To Environmental Violations
October 21, 2017
Local residents and members of a group are reacting to what they feel is an arrogant response from a pipeline company regarding recent state violations for spilling a mix of gasoline and water into a wetland area near Pinckney.
Local anti-pipeline group, ET Go Home, filed a complaint with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality regarding the smell of petroleum in water discharged from the pipeline project. Residents noticed an ongoing water spill on the construction easement on Dexter-Townhall Road near the border of Livingston and Washtenaw Counties.
Energy Transfer is the company constructing the pipeline and received a violation notice dated October 13th from the MDEQ stating Rover’s dewatering activities may be exacerbating the spread of contaminated groundwater from a former gas station. It says groundwater contaminated with petroleum was being captured through the dewatering process, which is being employed for the pipeline installation. That groundwater was being discharged to the wetlands adjacent to the Portage River. The response letter from Rover says the company voluntarily ceased dewatering activities and has been in communication with the MDEQ. It states Rover decided to employ a carbon filter system to eliminate the flow of any pre-existing contamination at the site. The letter adds the company does not believe any registration was given for water withdrawal. The letter closes by reminding the MDEQ that the Rover Pipeline Project is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC, which places certain limits on MDEQ’s permitting authority once a project is certificated and begins construction.
Local Activist Jen Nelson tells WHMI Rover obviously fears they have uncovered a possibly long-term contamination source in the route they pushed for but, failed to adequately assess. She says if they've touched off a major pollution problem, it will be their own fault, and all damages and remediation will be theirs to pay for – adding the public is not going to back off.
Environmental Law Attorney Terry Lodge commented that Rover persists in denying the authority of state environmental agencies to impose limits on their activity. In Ohio, she says they have pointedly refused to pay a $2.4 (M) million fine for various drilling fluid spills and other misdeeds. Lodge says their response letter arrogantly suggests that they need only 'voluntarily' respond when their construction may be poisoning the water source for downstream communities, adding it's time to terminate Rover's pipeline construction permit permanently.
Both the violation notice and Rover's response are attached. (JM)