Tuesday, September 27, 2022

DEP Issues 2 NOVs Against PA General Energy For Water Pollution Discharges Into The Loyalsock Creek From Gas Pipeline/Water Withdraw Construction In Lycoming County

On September 27, the Department of Environmental Protection reported it has so far issued two formal notices of violations for water pollution discharges occurring at the Pennsylvania General Energy Loyalsock/Shawnee natural gas pipeline and water withdrawal construction site on the Loyalsock Creek in Lycoming County.

The NOVs were issued on August 29 and September 8 for water pollution violations occurring from August 24 through September 6.  Under state environmental law, each day a violation goes on is a separate offense.

The violations included--

-- Discharged substances resulting in pollution of Waters of the Commonwealth.

-- Failure to notify the Department of an accident or other activity or incident, a toxic substance or another substance which would endanger downstream users of the waters, result in pollution or create a danger of pollution of the waters of this Commonwealth, or would damage property.

-- Failed to design, implement and maintain erosion and sedimentation best management practices to protect, maintain, reclaim and restore water quality and existing and designated uses.

-- During construction of water obstruction or encroachment, permittee failed to follow the erosion and sediment control plan prepared in accordance with Chapter 102

-- Person failed to plan and implement earth disturbance activities to minimize duration & extent of earth disturbance, minimize soil compaction, maximize protection of drainage features and vegetation, and utilize other measures or controls that prevent or minimize the generation of increased stormwater runoff.

-- The operator failed to maintain the water filter bags so that the BMPs could be effective and failed to implement the plan in accordance with the approved permit is a violation of 102.4(b)5.

Follow-up inspection reports provided by DEP for September 8, September 9September 12, and September 14 show those violations continued.

However, DEP latest inspection reports-- September 21 (8:49),  September 21 (11:44),  September 22, and  September 23 reported no violations were observed.

Watershed Reaction

Friends of the ‘Sock have been monitoring the PGE project for compliance with environmental protection requirements.  Read more here.

The Friends of the ‘Sock issued this statement in response to DEP’s latest update--

“Friends of the Sock is grateful that DEP has issued multiple violation notices to PGE for the company's degradation of the Loyalsock Creek. We also appreciate the fact that DEP continues to keep the lines of communication open with our organization.

“That said, we are frustrated by the need for citizens of the Loyalsock Watershed to continue to fight to protect our public lands and waterways day after day. 

“We question the worth of the "Exceptional Value" waterway designation, when permits for multiple surface water withdrawals (four to date on the Loyalsock Creek) have been issued by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission. 

“We believe the Exceptional Value designation demands that monetary penalties be imposed for serious violations like we have seen the past month, not simply paper NOVs.

“We question why DCNR has failed to respond to residents' concerns about the gas gathering line that is also permitted to cross the creek at this location, as well as unanswered questions concerning PGE's use of the steep no-outlet access road to existing and proposed new fracked gas wells on Jacoby Mountain.”

Loyalsock EV Stream

The Loyalsock is classified by DEP as an Exceptional Value stream whose water quality must be protected by law, with no degradation.  The Creek was also named by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as the 2018 Pennsylvania River of the Year and called a “timeless treasure.”  Read more here.

The Loyalsock Creek is home to the Eastern Hellbender, named the state’s official amphibian after a campaign by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation PA Student Leadership Council.  It only thrives in clean water.  Read more here

Surveys of Loyalsock Creek in Lycoming County over the last two summers by Dr. Peter Petokas, from Lycoming College Clean Water Institute, found habitats of the rare Eastern Hellbender salamander are being significantly impacted by sediment plumes from natural gas pipeline crossing and shale gas drilling-related water withdrawal construction projects. Read more here

Project Background

The PA General Energy Loyalsock/Shawnee natural gas pipeline and surface water withdrawal construction site is on both sides of Route 87 and the Loyalsock Creek, approximately 8 miles north of Montoursville in Gamble Township, Lycoming County.

The natural gas gathering pipeline system and freshwater supply pipelines are being built to connect the development of three shale gas tracts leased from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in Loyalsock State Forest that are expected to add up to 80 additional shale gas wells.

The pipelines will connect two leased tracts of state forest land on a plateau on the north side of the Loyalsock Creek, run about a mile down steep hillsides, under the Loyalsock Creek and State Route 87, and 1.5 miles up steep slopes up to a third leased tract on state forest land on the south side of the Creek.

The freshwater pipeline will be constructed above ground.  PGE will attempt to use new underground “micro-tunneling” technology for the natural gas pipeline, down steep slopes on both sides of the Creek.

Public Urged To Report Problems

“Any member of the public concerned about this or other potential environmental issues they may observe at any time should contact their regional DEP office to file a complaint,” said Mary Lehman, DEP’s Northcentral Regional Office.  “Complaints may be filed over the phone or through a web form.”

“DEP investigates all complaints and will keep complainant identities confidential.”

For more information on specific follow-up actions, contact Megan Lehman, DEP’s Environmental Community Relations officer at 570-327-3659.

(Photo: DEP inspection report photo of construction site 9.14.22.)

Related Articles:

-- Exceptional Value Water Quality Designation, State Forest Land, River Honors Were Not Enough To Protect Loyalsock Creek From Natural Gas Drilling & Pipelines In Lycoming County

-- Rare Eastern Hellbender Habitat In Loyalsock Creek, Lycoming County Harmed By Sediment Plumes From Pipeline Crossings, Shale Gas Drilling Water Withdrawal Construction Projects

-- DEP, Fish & Boat Commission Investigate Multiple, Continuing Water Pollution Discharges From PGE Natural Gas Pipeline Construction Site On Loyalsock Creek, Lycoming County

Related Articles This Week:

-- Pitt School Of Public Health, PA Dept Of Health Abruptly Pull Out Of Oct. 5 Public Meeting They Helped Convene On Studies Looking At Links Between Natural Gas Development And Childhood Cancer Rates  [PaEN]

-- Final Reg. Reducing Methane From Conventional Oil & Gas Facilities NOT On Environmental Quality Board Agenda For Oct. 12; Will Consider Final PFOS/PFOA MCL Rule  [PaEN]

-- DEP Posts First Invitation For Bids For Plugging 79 Conventional Natural Gas Wells In Allegheny, Butler, McKean, Potter Counties Under Federally-Funded Program  [PaEN]

-- DEP/Susquehanna River Basin Commission Public Notices -- Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities  [PaEN]

-- Forbes: U.S. Natural Gas Production Set New Record, But Don’t Expect Relief On Your Heating Bills [LNG Exports Link U.S./PA To High Prices]  [PaEN]

-- DEP Now Accepting Applications For Cooking In Healthy Electrified Commercial Kitchens Rebate Program; 3 Cooking In Energy Efficient Kitchens Webinars   [PaEN] 

-- FracTracker Alliance Accepting Nominations For 2022 Community Sentinel Awards  [PaEN]
[Posted: September 27, 2022] 
PA Environment Digest

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