Gas company fined for building pipelines in the wrong place

  • Susan Phillips

A natural gas gathering pipeline in the Loyalsock State Forest.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

A natural gas gathering pipeline in the Loyalsock State Forest. Gathering lines are not regulated in rural areas but they do need permits from DEP for construction.

A natural gas company and a pipeline builder in southwestern Pennsylvania will be paying a combined $184,000 for constructing gathering lines outside the bounds of their permits. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says in one case, the pipeline was constructed several hundred feet from where the line was supposed to be installed. In another case, the pipeline crossed a waterway several hundred yards away from the permitted stream crossing. These gathering lines are the smaller pipelines that carry gas from the wellhead to larger transmission lines, or gas processing facilities.
DEP fined CNX Gas Company, a subsidiary of Consol Energy, $139,000, while CONE Midstream Partners has been assessed $45,000 for violating the state’s Clean Streams Law and the Oil and Gas Act.
DEP employees discovered the violations during a routine inspection in December 2015. Not only did the inspector find pipelines where they were not permitted to be, but DEP also discovered a gravel road and a pad for a pipeline valve that were not permitted at all.
Gathering lines in rural areas are not regulated by the state or federal governments, nor do the companies operating them have to comply with PA One Call. But gathering lines do need erosion and sediment control permits, as well as water crossing permits from DEP. The agency found 20 of these lines operated by CNX, and another 7 owned by CONE Midstream Partners in Greene, Washington, Indiana, and Jefferson counties, were out of compliance.
CNX and CONE Midstream have until November 15, 2016 to complete a review of their pipelines. Neither company could be reached for comment. DEP says CNX and CONE are working to bring their lines into compliance.

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