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Investigation into Vermont pipeline depth

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World Pipelines,

Regulator orders investigation of Vermont Gas into pipeline depth.

The Vermont Public Utility Commission said on Friday that Vermont Gas notified the panel last month that it buried the pipeline less than 4 ft deep in 18 spots in the town.

The 41 mile pipeline runs from Colchester to Middlebury. It became operational in April.

The commission said it opened an investigation into whether the utility violated its 2013 permit.

The investigation will determine if remedial action or a penalty is appropriate.

A spokeswoman for Vermont Gas said the company was confident the pipeline met or exceeded safety standards.

Vermont Gas said the pipeline was not able to be buried at the required depth because of wet, swampy conditions in portions of New Haven.

The panel said it will also require Vermont Gas to submit evidence by Aug. 11 to certify that the rest of the US$165 million pipeline has been buried at the required depth.

The company's Certificate of Public Good (CPG), issued on December 23, 2013, authorised the construction of the pipeline from Chittenden County to Addison County and required that the pipeline be buried at least 4 ft deep within electric transmission corridors for safety reasons.

Beth Parent, Communications and Brand Manager at Vermont Gas, issued the following statement: “Vermont Gas is confident that we have constructed this project in a manner that meets or exceeds safety standards. Our permit requires that we comply with MOAs and MOUs, including the one we have with VELCO for our work in their corridor that requires us to meet loading standards for safety. Last month, we asked the Public Utility Commission to grant us a non-substantial change for 18 unique locations within the VELCO corridor in New Haven in what is often referred to as ‘clay plains’. When we determined we could not achieve four ft in those areas due to wet, swampy conditions, we worked with VELCO to ensure that we still met or exceeded their loading standards at our current depth. Both VELCO and the Department of Public Service have confirmed we meet safety standards. We look forward to providing additional information to the Commission so that this may be resolved soon.”

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