The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has issued a wetlands and waterways permit for a short pipeline extension – the Columbia Gas Transmission LLC's Eastern Panhandle Expansion Project – aimed at supporting economic growth and residential customers in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia.
The project will be approximately 3.5 miles of new 8 in. dia. natural gas pipeline and transport 47 500 dth/d, connecting a TransCanada pipeline in Pennsylvania to Mountaineer Gas’ system in West Virginia. The pipeline would run through Maryland under the Potomac River.
The MDE-issued wetlands and waterways permit for the pipeline includes over 24 customised conditions specific to the project and its location to ensure protection of public health and the environment.
Ben Grumbles, Head of the MDE, said the state has added almost two dozen environmental conditions, many of which ‘go above and beyond’ those typically included by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
“The bottom line is that this pipeline will not get built if the applicant doesn’t comply with our many requirements, regardless of what the federal agencies ultimately decide,” Grumbles stated.
Some of the customised conditions include the following:
- To protect both private wells and public drinking water systems, MDE included a requirement that all work must be carried out in a manner that does not damage or degrade any wells during construction.
- The MDE approved a horizontal directional drilling plan, which TransCanada claims will minimise environmental impacts of construction. Safeguards are included, with limits of allowable drilling fluids to water and bentonite clay, with no additives without prior approval.
- Visual monitoring is required of the Potomac River by boat from sunrise to sunset for early detection of any pollution.
- Prohibited blasting without prior department approval.
The MDE says impacts to non-tidal wetlands, wetland buffer, stream and floodplain areas are estimated to be about three-fifths of an acre.
Columbia Pipeline Group Inc., which was acquired by TransCanada in 2016 in a bid to expand its transmission network, filed an application with FERC for the project one year ago. The company expects to begin construction next month and have the pipeline in service in October. The project is still waiting for approvals from FERC and Pennsylvania regulators for the section of the project that connects West Virginia to Pennsylvania.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldpipelines.com/project-news/21032018/maryland-issues-permit-for-columbia-gas-pipeline-extension/