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WV Pipeline Coating Reported Safe After Concerns

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

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Addressing concerns raised over the coating used on a stretch of the Mountain Valley pipeline running through Virginia and West Virginia, project developers told federal regulators that the coating in question does not pose a threat of harm.

According to The Roanoke Times, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requested information on the coating in early July.

Mountain Valley Pipeline History

Owned and still being constructed by Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC—a joint venture between EQT Midstream Partners LP, NextEra US Gas Assets LLC, Con Edison Transmission Inc., WGL Midstream and RGC Midstream LLC—the pipeline is slated to be operated by EQT Midstream Partners.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is expected to run from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia, cutting through the Jefferson National Forest. Being the smaller of two such projects currently underway in the state of Virginia; the other is the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is twice as long and passes through the center of the state but does not cut through Jefferson National Forest.

On July 27, 2018, an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit turned over prior decisions made by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service authorizing construction of the 303-mile pipeline. In early August, the U.S. Federal Regulatory Commission ordered work on the pipeline to cease, alleging that two U.S. agencies had not fully examined the projects.

A few months later, in October, the project was blocked yet again, but this time by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, suspending a permit that would allow the pipeline to cross more than 500 streams and wetlands in southwest Virginia. The following month, MVP filed an application with FERC for a 73-mile Southgate permit pipeline extension.

Coating Concerns

Since January of this year, concerned Virginia residents have sent direct correspondence to FERC in reference to the degradation and sloughing (chalking) of the pipeline’s 3M Scotchkote Fusion Bonded Epoxy 6233, which was accelerated due to prolonged exposure to sunlight and the environment.

As seen by the community, the chalking of coatings affects the area in two ways:

  • Releases harmful toxins into the air while exposed to the elements and
  • Leaches materials into groundwater with the possibility of spreading to streams and wells once buried.

State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver and Department of Environmental Quality Director David Paylor sent an additional letter to the FERC commission in March, requesting more information about the possible short- and long-term hazards proposed by the coating after they failed to hear back from 3M Manufacturing Company, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Sanitation Foundation.

Earlier this month, the Virginia DEQ issued a stop work order on a two-mile stretch of the pipeline, citing insufficient erosion and sediment control.

“Based on a DEQ inspection conducted on Thursday, Aug. 1, the agency has determined that an imminent and substantial adverse impact to water quality is likely to occur as a result of land-disturbing activities,” the DEQ wrote.

“Specifically, MVP has failed to construct and maintain erosion and sediment control or pollution prevention measures in accordance with approved site-specific plans and/or the erosion and sediment control measures that have been installed are not functioning effectively and MVP has not proposed any corrective action.”

Developer Response, Moving Forward

Jeffrey Klinefelter, vice president for construction and engineering on the project, noted in a letter to FERC that “there is no evidence that the use of epoxy coatings present a risk to human health, aquatic life or other environmental receptors through any foreseeable exposure pathway.”

In the letter, Klinefelter also emphasized that coatings had been used since the 1960s, and have been studied over that time. Moving forward, it remains unclear over what steps the agency overseeing the project will take next.

   

Tagged categories: Coating Materials; Coatings; Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC); Fusion bonded epoxy; NA; North America; Pipelines; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Regulations

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