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Operator of natural gas gathering pipeline in Greene County fined |

Operator of natural gas gathering pipeline in Greene County fined

Stephen Huba

The operator of a natural gas gathering pipeline in Greene County has been fined $1.5 million for environmental violations related to erosion and sediment control.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said Monday it had assessed the civil penalty against Rice Midstream Holdings LLC for violations that occurred on the Beta Trunk Pipeline in Aleppo and Richhill townships in 2017 and 2018.

Although the pipeline is now owned by Equitrans Midstream Corp., the violations began prior to the acquisition of Rice in 2018.

The Beta Trunk Pipeline is an approximately 7.5-mile gathering line within a larger Beta System that takes natural gas from several well pads to transmission facilities. Although portions of the line are in service pursuant to DEP permitting in 2017, portions remain under construction.

Rice is required to use erosion and sediment control practices in its pipeline construction to prevent sediment pollution into water sources, the DEP said.

On Oct. 11, 2017, Rice reported — and a same-day DEP inspection confirmed — sediment-laden water overwhelmed unnamed tributaries to Mudlick Fork and Harts Run. The DEP said best management practices were not properly maintained or not installed at all.

Subsequent inspections revealed similar violations Jan. 21, 22, and 23, 2018; Feb. 12 and 15, 2018; and March 6 and 30, 2018, the DEP said. Rice voluntarily shut down construction of new sections of the pipeline, redirected resources to the remediation of unstable areas and resolved the violations as of April 30, 2018.

However, on May 25, 2018, Rice reported three significant slope failures within and outside the Beta Trunk Pipeline’s permitted limit of earth disturbance — violations corrected as of July 5, 2018.

In December, the DEP approved a permit modification to repair the slope failures.

Equitrans Midstream said in a statement Monday it is “committed to responsible operations that will safeguard the environment and protect the health and safety of our employees, contractors, and communities.

“For this particular case, we wanted to proactively work with the DEP to resolve these historical issues and move forward in a compliant manner. We operate with integrity at all times and if something does not achieve the requisite compliance objective, we will take responsibility and do our best to implement the appropriate corrective actions.”

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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