State environmental officials have levied a $1.5 million fine against a natural gas pipeline company for problems at a construction site in Greene County.
The fine stems from violations that began in October 2017 along the Rice Midstream Holdings’ Beta Trunk Pipeline. The 7.5-mile line spans Aleppo and Richhill townships.
Water containing sediment, such as dirt, soil or clay, overtook erosion controls and flowed into tributaries, according to the Department of Environmental Protection. The department reports that some of those controls were not properly maintained, or they were missing entirely.
“We didn’t see any major impacts to aquatic life,” DEP spokesperson Lauren Fraley said. “However, sediment pollution is a major issue, and it’s something that we take very seriously.”
Construction stopped temporarily as the problem areas were fixed. Then in May last year, three landslides occurred, according to DEP.
“It happened in a rural area of Greene County where there aren’t a lot of homes nearby, but this is something that we have been and will continue to be doing regular inspections of,” Fraley said.
Equitrans Midstream Corp. now owns the pipeline after a merger last year.
A spokesperson for the company said in a statement that Equitrans Midstream is committed to responsible operations that will safeguard the environment.
“For this particular case, we wanted to proactively work with the PA DEP to resolve these historical issues and move forward in a compliant manner,” spokesperson Natalie Cox said. “We operate with integrity at all times and if something does not achieve the requisite compliance objective, we will take responsibility and do our best to implement the appropriate corrective actions.”
The Beta Trunk Pipeline is part of a larger system of pipelines that carry natural gas from several well pads to transmission facilities, according to the DEP. Some parts of the line are in service, and Fraley said most construction is complete.
This story was produced in partnership with StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration among WESA, The Allegheny Front, WITF and WHYY to cover the commonwealth's energy economy.