Leaching of coating chemicals used in pipe materials for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is “not a significant pathway and will not result in human health risks,” so stated a July 23 filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by Dominion Energy Transmission, Inc. (DETI), managing partner for the ACP project. DETI’s filing was in response to FERC’s July 3 request for toxicological environmental and health information on the coatings used on ACP pipe.
FERC had asked DETI to:
Evaluate and report on the toxicity of the FBE (Fusion Bonded Epoxy) from all potential exposure pathways including from direct and indirect human contact, ingestion or inhalation; as well as environmental pathways (leachability and mobility) in air, soils, surface water, and groundwater. The evaluation should likewise include an analysis of human and environmental exposure from the degradation of FBE due to exposure to sunlight, and sloughing (chalking) of the material.
In summarizing its 319-page response to the FERC request, DETI stated:
According to 3M (supplier of the coating materials), chalking is a phenomenon that occurs when epoxy-based coatings are exposed to UV for an extended period of time. The chalk is a thin layer (microns thick) that adheres to the surface of the pipe that is composed of polymer degradation products (not typically known with specificity) that are created by exposure of the surface of the pipe to UV light from the sun.
Although 3M has no conclusive evidence at this time to confirm their exact identity, the degradation products are generated in low quantities, have low water solubility, and are therefore not expected to enter the environment in amounts capable of producing an adverse human health effect. . . . DETI is undertaking an evaluation of the FBE chalking residue including composition, toxicity, and potential for environmental exposure. The results of this evaluation will be submitted by August 23, 2019, or as soon as they are available.
The environmental and safety implications of pipe coating degradation has been raised with FERC and other regulatory agencies for over a year by William Limpert, a Bath County landowner impacted by the approved ACP route and a member of ABRA’s Steering Committee. Mr. Limpert and others within ABRA are evaluating the DETI response. It is not clear at this time what further action FERC might now take on the issue.