Pipelines old and new continue to make news. The old pipeline – Kinder Morgan’s Plantation Pipeline – ruptured near Belton in Anderson County in late 2014. The pipeline failure was noticed by passers-by in December of that year and was later estimated by Kinder Morgan to total 370,000 gallons, all of which seeped into the ground, impacting the water table and quickly reaching a tributary of Brown’s Creek, a thousand feet away. Due to the company’s failure to clean up the pollution, in December, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed suit on behalf of Upstate Forever and Savannah Riverkeeper under the Clean Water Act. More background information is available here.
Since our last update, SELC released an independent assessment of the reported data on the spill on January 30. Its consultants concluded that the spill was much larger than reported. The following day, DHEC hosted a public meeting requested by Anderson County Council; over 100 citizens attended (see photo), but Kinder Morgan did not. In that meeting, DHEC listened to the concerns that were expressed and agreed to convene with the community on a regular basis and to expand testing to Broadway Lake. Finally, we are pleased that this week DHEC initiated split-sampling testing at the site, which means that DHEC and Kinder Morgan will conduct joint sampling and independent lab testing going forward.
The new pipeline is a proposed 55-mile natural gas pipeline, called the Dominion Transco to Charleston Project, which connects compressor stations in Spartanburg County and Greenwood County via Laurens and Newberry Counties. Another pipeline connecting these two points already exists. The proposed route would disrupt 181 residential sites as well as numerous timber, forest and agricultural lands with a permanent 50-foot right of way and would cross 73 water bodies. Upstate Forever believes that this new capacity through undeveloped land is not needed, does not warrant eminent domain, and causes unnecessary harm with no corresponding benefit. For details, click here.
The most recent news on this project is a January 24 resolution issued by Laurens County Council opposing the use of eminent domain for construction of the pipeline in Laurens County. On February 2, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Dominion a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, authorizing the company to utilize eminent domain to acquire pipeline right-of-way. This certificate was issued the day before FERC lost a quorum of commissioners and without the necessary DHEC Section 401 water quality certification. Upstate Forever will continue to scrutinize this project as it proceeds through the 401 certification process, and we will appeal the FERC Certificate.