A company building a major natural gas pipeline will pay $122,350 for a series of environmental violations in West Virginia.
Columbia Gas Transmission, which is building the Mountaineer XPress Project, has agreed to pay the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for environmental problems, according to a consent order made public Monday.
The 206-page consent order details 16 different notices of violation issued to the project between April and September. In each case, the DEP inspected construction and noted different environmental problems, including failing to keep sediment-laden water from running off the site, and preventing against erosion.
Columbia Gas is required to comply with the terms of its permits and submit a plan of corrective action in 20 days, according to the order. The penalty is due within 30 days of the order.
Scott Castleman, a spokesman for TransCanada, said the company had accepted the DEP’s draft consent order and planned to pay the $122,350. Columbia Gas Transmission is a subsidiary of TransCanada, and will operate the Mountaineer Xpress Pipeline when it’s finished.
“It is important to note that since construction commenced across the project in the spring of 2018, we have taken each of these issues very seriously and implemented measures to address them as they were identified,” Castleman said.
Columbia Gas agreed to the draft order Nov. 8, he said. The draft consent order is subject to a comment period, which ends Dec. 23. The DEP did not respond to a request for comment.
The pipeline is one of many being built in the region to tap into the Marcellus Shale, and would run 170 miles from Marshall County to Wayne County.
It’s also not the only pipeline being built that’s breaking environmental rules. The Mountain Valley Pipeline has received 19 violation notices from the DEP. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has received two.
“It’s starting to feel like Groundhog Day — another pipeline, another long list of water quality violations,” Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, said of Mountaineer Xpress. “The cumulative effect of all of this new sediment in our streams is very concerning. At what point will we say enough is enough? Instead of taking a pause to take a closer look at impacts, we’re watching the damage pile up.”
She applauded the DEP for its thorough inspections and noted the repeated problems could have required hundreds of hours of DEP staff time.
The $122,000 fine isn’t really enough to deter a $2 billion pipeline from making the same mistakes again, she said.
“Recovering the costs to the state to deal with repeat violators must be factored into penalties — otherwise, the taxpayers stand to cover the bill for corporate wrongdoing,” she said.