Prove your humanity

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday ordered a pipeline company to restore streams it illegally eliminated or altered while building a pipeline that opened last year.

The Revolution pipeline had only been working for a week when it exploded in Beaver County in September, destroying one home.

The DEP says it found out about the stream damage while investigating the explosion.

The agency said Energy Transfer, the pipeline’s owner, illegally eliminated at least 23 streams during construction by filling them with soil. That led to a loss of nearly 1,900 feet of stream channel. Another 1,300 feet were lost when the company shortened the lengths of 120 other streams, mostly unnamed tributaries to streams in Beaver and Butler counties. The agency said the company eliminated “at least 17, and altered 70” wetlands during construction.

“DEP’s investigation of the explosion and the construction of the pipeline has found numerous violations impacting the streams and wetlands located along the length of the pipeline,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said, in a news release. “This order continues our strong commitment to hold all pipeline operators accountable for any actions that illegally impact Pennsylvania’s environment.”

The company didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

It’s the latest in a series of orders the agency has issued to the company after the September explosion, which occurred as a result of a landslide after a period of heavy rainfall.

In October, the agency ordered the company to fix inadequate erosion control measures in several locations along its route, including unreported landslides and erosion into streams.

By February, the agency said it wasn’t pleased with the company’s progress, and told the company it wouldn’t review any more of its permits until it complied with the October order. That halt, which also applies to the company’s Mariner East Pipeline from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, remains in effect, said DEP spokeswoman Elizabeth Rementer.

As part of the October order, the agency told the company to update its erosion permits for the pipeline. In a Feb. 21 letter to DEP, the company reported the illegal damage to streams. The company said it would “replace streams that are no longer present” and fix other damage it has caused by “spring of 2019.”

The order issued Tuesday “establishes a timeline with specific orders for addressing the impacted waterways and wetlands that ETC identified in the Feb. 21 letter as well as for performing a full assessment of the pipeline to identify waterways and wetlands that were impacted by construction,” Rementer said in an email.

The order mandates the company identify and repair all stream damage along the 40-mile route of the Revolution line by July 30.

Energy Transfer spokeswoman Lisa Dillinger said the company has had “productive discussions” with the DEP, and is “already moving forward with a number of restoration activities.” It will “continue to work with DEP until the issues are resolved, she said.

A Very Controversial Pipeline

This story is produced in partnership with StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration among The Allegheny Front, WPSU, WITF and WHYY to cover the commonwealth's energy economy.