The former Exelon Generating Station in Eddystone, Delaware County is being converted to a rail terminal for crude oil.
As many as 500 people have been working around the clock to turn an old coal-fired power plant in Eddystone, Delaware County into a terminal for crude oil. By the end of April, trains hauling 80,000 barrels of crude will arrive every day from North Dakota to help feed refineries along the Delaware River.
“That was the opportunity… to see if we could be part of the solution to save the refineries in the Philadelphia area,” says Jack Galloway, CEO of Canopy Prospecting Inc.
Galloway’s company has teamed up with North American energy distributor Enbridge to form the new Eddystone Rail Company.
“We welcome the industrial businesses coming in, we understand the benefits of the economic growth,” says William Stewart, President of the Eddystone Borough Council. “However, we want to make sure we’re educated so in the event something was to happen, our first responders are prepared to do what they need to do.”
Two trains carrying crude oil derailed recently in Pennsylvania. They join a string of similar accidents across North America, including one last summer that killed 47 people in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec.
At a packed legislative committee hearing this week in Delaware County, former Congressman Curt Weldon – a former mayor and fire chief in Marcus Hook – warned state lawmakers that state and local first responders may not be prepared for accidents.
In December, the state Supreme Court struck down portions of the 2012 law that restricted the ability of local governments to zone oil and gas development, but the justices left a number of matters unresolved and sent the case back to the lower Commonwealth Court .
The court is now reviewing, among other things, whether the rest of Act 13 can stand without the sections that were struck down.
A 12,000-gallon gasoline spill from a ruptured pipeline in Westmoreland County in 2008 could cost Sunoco Logistics Partners more than $2.3 million in civil penalties from the state.
The Department of Environmental Protection filed a complaint Friday with the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board asking it to impose a fine of at least $2.38 million against Sunoco Logistics and its subsidiary Sunoco Pipeline.
The November 2008 spill in Murrysville contaminated Turtle Creek and killed nearly all of the aquatic life in a three-mile stretch of the waterway, triggered evacuations of homes and businesses, and shut down U.S. Route 22 for hours in the community 20 miles east of Pittsburgh. Mistakes during maintenance on the 8-inch interstate pipeline caused a plug to blow out, which “forced the gasoline to fountain twenty (20) to thirty (30) feet into the air” and rain “down onto and into nearby businesses, parking lots, and the surrounding soils and surfaces,” DEP said in its complaint. Federal pipeline regulators said the incident caused $1.1 million in property damage but no injuries.
In an opinion released Friday, the Court of Special Appeals weighed the meaning of ten crucial words in the most recent version of the agreement, which Dominion, Sierra and another group signed in 2005. The agreement permits “receipt by tanker and the receipt or delivery by pipeline” of natural gas at the site.
The opinion by Judge Michele Hotten even includes the full dictionary entry for the word “by” as part of the court’s efforts to parse the phrase.
According to Sierra, this clause means that Dominion can receive shipments of gas by sea and over land, via pipeline, at the site, and that the company can make deliveries over land to domestic buyers. However, the group argues, Dominion is not permitted to make deliveries by sea.
Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley sat down with StateImpact Pennsylvania recently to talk about how the Corbett administration is handling allegations of fraud against the state’s biggest natural gas driller– Chesapeake Energy.
The state agency that oversees Pennsylvania’s utilities has received numerous complaints from residents who say their electric bills have unexpectedly and dramatically increased this winter. The Public Utility Commission says it’s gotten 2,580 complaints since January 1, the Associated Press reports.
The PUC and the state attorney general’s office say they are investigating the spikes to see if customers are being overcharged. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently reported that most of the complaints come from consumers who’ve switched to variable-rate plans based on the wholesale price of electricity.
Most electric consumers in the state — the 3.4 million who still buy from utility companies — are likely unaffected because their rates are frozen for long periods and regulated by the commission. There are 2.2 million customers who buy service from deregulated suppliers, and it’s an unknown number of them who have variable-rate plans and could be affected.
The PUC does not keep a tally of how many have variable-rate plans. Some people signed up directly for rates that could go up and down based on the market’s whims. Others were switched automatically when their fixed-rate deals expired.
Electricity prices spiked as the regional power grid saw record winter demand from people turning up the heat and staying indoors during extreme cold that hit the area during the past seven weeks. Variable-rate plans jumped as high as 38 cents per kilowatt hour compared with 8 cents for people who stuck with their default utility company, according to the Office of Consumer Advocate.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announces Monday at City Hall that UIL Holdings Corp. of New Haven, Conn., plans to purchase Philadelphia Gas Works.
Today, Philadelphians don’t get their natural gas from the Marcellus Shale. But under a proposed deal announced Monday to privatize the city’s gas works, Mayor Michael Nutter says that could change.
At a press conference, Nutter introduced the city to UIL Holdings Corp., a Connecticut-based energy company that has agreed to buy Philadelphia Gas Works for $1.86 billion.
Under the deal, UIL would take over the 178-year-old natural gas distribution company, keep rates flat for three years, offer jobs to PGW’s roughly 1,650 employees, maintain programs for low-income residents and seniors, and replace aging cast-iron pipes.
Nutter also said the deal “positions PGW to take full advantage of the abundant supply of natural gas in Pennsylvania, offering our city and our region the opportunity to become the prime energy hub in the U.S.”
The utility is owned by the city and run by the nonprofit Philadelphia Facilities Management Corporation. Kenney says the operating agreement between the PFMC and the city limits PGW’s ability to work with pipeline companies operating in the Marcellus.
Former Secretary of the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection and democratic gubernatorial candidate, Katie McGinty.
In 2005, as the head of the state Department of Environmental Protection, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie McGinty fast-tracked a permit for a controversial waste coal power plant in western Pennsylvania. In recent months, McGinty has accepted $120,000 in campaign contributions from a coal executive behind the project.
The Beech Hollow power plant was ultimately never built. But emails obtained by StateImpact Pennsylvania show an effort by McGinty to expedite the plant’s permit and approve it just before more stringent federal air quality regulations were going to be implemented.
Ray Bologna Sr.’s family owns the site of a massive pile of waste coal in Washington County– said to be the largest east of the Mississippi. The plan was to use it as fuel for the power plant. Over the years, the Bologna’s have given generously to many political campaigns, including those of former Governor Ed Rendell and Governor Corbett.
Bologna did not respond to requests to comment for this story.
The railroad’s internal investigation has found that crews upgrading the tracks did not properly attach temporary fasteners to the railroad ties, the company said in a statement. Following the derailment, CSX says it conducted a safety review for personnel who work maintaining and upgrading tracks.
The tanker cars did not leak and there were no injuries reported. It was a minor incident compared to other accidents involving crude oil trains in the last year as production in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale reaches a million barrels a day. The federal government is cracking down on crude oil shippers to make the transport of domestic oil safer and railroads have agreed to make voluntary changes, like slowing down trains near populous areas.
The Pennsylvania House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee will hold a hearing next Wednesday, March 5 on the safety of crude-by-rail. The hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Eddystone, Delaware County.
A Seneca Resources well pad in the Loyalsock State Forest.
Oil and gas companies were fined $2.5 million by Pennsylvania environmental regulators last year for violations at well sites and pipeline routes.
The 2013 total was the third highest in the three decades of oil and gas penalties the Department of Environmental Protection tracks in its public compliance report. Oil and gas companies were fined higher amounts only in 2010 ($2.7 million) and 2011 ($2.6 million), according to the database. (Tallying the fines in a different way through its fiscal report, DEP said the 2013 total was actually tied with 2011.)
Unlike recent years when high-profile spills, fires or methane migration cases attracted attention and hefty penalties, 2013 saw smaller but significant fines issued without fanfare to companies for violations that accumulated over years. Six of the 20 largest fines ever levied by DEP’s oil and gas program were handed out last year, but only one was among the ten largest.