A pipeline that exploded in 2018 has been allowed to again carry gas after a consent agreement was reached between its owner and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
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 in Beaver County. There were no injuries. The pipeline, which had just been put into use, has since been out of service while the owner, Energy Transfer Corp. (ETC), and DEP wrestled over the steps required to take to make sure that another such incident would not occur as the company worked to rebuild the damaged area.
DEP had issued a consent order in January 2020 that assessed a $30.6 million civil penalty against ETC and required the company to submit revised designs for constructing the line across steep slopes as it rebuilt the line and requiring an emergency plan.
Most recently, DEP in November 2020 ordered Energy Transfer not to put gas into the line after the company indicated it planned to restart operations, citing serious concerns about the stability of certain sections of the line that travel along steep slopes in Beaver County. The order also found the company’s emergency preparedness plan lacking, and required it to submit a revised plan. ETC appealed the order to the Environmental Quality Board.
A news release announcing the settlement states, “ETC submitted a revised (Preparedness, Prevention, and Contingency) Plan that describes how the contents of the Revolution Pipeline would be removed in a safe and environmentally protective manner prior to permanent stabilization in the event of leak, release, or catastrophic incident like a landslide. ETC also demonstrated that all steep slope areas identified in the order currently meet the factor of safety DEP required.” The agreement also includes a $125,000 civil penalty.
In addition, it includes corrective actions that ETC must undertake, including construction addressing drainage issues along steep slopes, and submission of a revised permanent stabilization plan to provide for continuous stability monitoring of one steep section.
ETC reached an agreement with the state Public Utility Commission, which also conducted an investigation of the explosion, in December 2020. That settlement carries a $1 million penalty and requires ETC to perform frequent pipeline monitoring.
The 40-mile long Revolution Pipeline takes gas from Marcellus wells in Beaver and Butler counties to a gas processing plant in Washington County.