No further work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline should occur until safety threats can be fully assessed and remedied according to a comprehensive letter sent this week to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In a June 10 letter to PHMSA Administrator Howard Elliott, William Limpert, a Bath County, VA landowner whose property would be adversely impacted by the ACP and who is a member of ABRA’s Steering Committee, warned about the “threat to public safety from the ACP from landslides and earth movement, but other public safety concerns exist as well. These include risks from flooding, karst terrain, difficult construction in extreme terrain, and degradation of the pipe exterior corrosion protection from excessive exposure to sunlight during storage.”
Continuing, Limpert wrote:
I am aware that FERC approves the siting of interstate natural gas pipelines, and that FERC allows an operator’s hired consultant to perform a geohazard assessment. This puts PHMSA in the unenviable position of insuring public safety on a project that PHMSA neither approves nor assesses for geohazards. That, along with the current proliferation of new natural gas pipelines, and your limited staff makes your job a difficult one. Nevertheless, I believe that you have the authority to adequately protect the public safety if you act aggressively, use all of the tools at your disposal, and do not allow the industry to control your agenda.
I appreciate the recent PHMSA Advisory Bulletin ADB-2019-02 regarding the threat to pipelines from landslides, earth movement, and other geological hazards. The bulletin lists a large number of recent pipeline failures. These failures indicate that current practices are not sufficient to protect the public safety., especially from a project as fraught with peril as the ACP. I applaud the comprehensive list of suggestions to operators in the bulletin to improve safety. Nevertheless, I believe that most operators will not act on PHMSA suggestions. I believe that PHMSA needs to require operators to make safety upgrades, or they won’t be done.