Environment | National

Dakota Access firm ordered to stop some work on pipeline in Ohio






The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission told the backers of the Rover Pipeline to stop horizontal directional drilling at certain sites in Ohio due to concerns about a spill of drilling fluids in wetlands.

The firm behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline is having another bad week.

News reports on Monday carried the $431,000 in fines imposed on Energy Transfer Partners in connection with two spills along the path of the Rover Pipeline in Ohio. Then on Wednesday came the first report of a crude oil spill along a portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline in South Dakota.

Now the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is taking notice. A letter sent to Joey Mahmoud, who is a senior vice president for both Rover and Dakota Access, on Wednesday instructs him to stop certain construction activities in Ohio.

The agency cited concerns regarding the spill of about 2 million gallons of drilling fluids near the Tuscarawas River in Stark County. Construction crews kept engaging in horizontal directional drilling (HDD) on the $4.2 billion Rover natural gas pipeline even as the release covered about 6.5 acres of wetlands, according to the letter.


According to a May 10, 2017, letter from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, construction crews kept working on the Rover Pipeline in Ohio even as a spill of drilling fluids covered 6.5 acres of wetlands.

"Based on this information, as well as the volume, extent, and condition of drilling mud in the wetland, staff has serious concerns regarding the magnitude of the incident (which was several orders of magnitude greater than other documented HDD inadvertent returns for this project), its environmental impacts, the lack of clarity regarding the underlying reasons for its occurrence, and the possibility of future problems," the agency said to Mahmoud.

As a result, Rover has been instructed to stop HDD activities at 8 locations in Ohio pending further reviews and approvals by FERC staff. But drilling can continue at other locations, according to the letter.

Energy Transfer also engaged in HDD to complete the final portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Construction crews drilled underneath the Missouri River in order to place a pipeline at Lake Oahe.

The drilling site is located less than a half-mile north of the home of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose leaders are hoping to stop oil from flowing along the pipeline. A motion to set aside the Trump administration's approval of the project is pending in federal court.

Construction-related spills aren't the only problem affecting Rover. According to the Associated Press, the pipeline has experienced 18 leaks even before it has become operational.

The Dakota Access spill in South Dakota also occurred before the pipeline has become operational. A spokesperson for Energy Transfer has told the AP the project should be fully commissioned by June 1.

Read More on the Story:
Feds shut down new drilling along Rover pipeline project (The Columbus Dispatch 5/11)
FERC stops some drilling for Rover Pipeline (The Canton Republican 5/10)
U.S. blocks major pipeline after 18 leaks and a 2 million gallon spill of drilling mud (The Washington Post 5/10)
Company Behind Rover Pipeline Defiant Over Ohio EPA Fine (WASU 5/10)

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