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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Ever since the beginning of the Shale gas boom, natural gas pipelines have been crisscrossing the state, raising concerns of those who live nearby.
“I have two kids. We built this house 10 years ago and never in my life would I ever think I have to worry about explosions or pollution,” Jennifer Weinzerel said.
In the past two years, KDKA-TV has reported extensively on the cross-state Mariner East II pipeline being constructed by Energy Transfer, the same Dallas-based company that owns the pipeline that ruptured in Beaver County on Monday morning.
The state Department of Environmental Protection has cited the $2.5 billion project for more than 50 spills and leaks that have fouled streams and tainted water wells, twice ordering the project shut down for what it calls “egregious and willful violations.”
As recently as June, the DEP fined Energy Transfer $145,000 for causing a landslide into Raccoon Creek.
“Who is monitoring this? Who’s asking questions? Who’s vetting this entire process to keep people safe?” Debra Smit, with the Breathe Project, said.
The Environmental Breathe Project has been questioning the rapid pace of pipeline construction, including the one that ruptured Monday morning, which just came online last week.
It’s a so-called “gathering pipeline,” designed to take raw natural gas from Butler County to Washington County for processing and then into the Mariner East pipeline for distribution. In a statement, the company said there was evidence of earth-shifting in its vicinity.
“They’re putting these pipelines down in areas that are not really stable and what we’re asking for is more review,” Smit said.
In its statement, Energy Transfer said, “All the appropriate regulatory notifications have been made. We do not know the cause of the incident at this time, however a thorough investigation will be conducted.”
The state Public Utilities Commission will be conducting its own investigation into the explosion, and more fines and citations are anticipated.
The incident will also raise public concern to a new level and put pressure on the state for tighter scrutiny of these pipeline projects going forward.