The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Rover Pipeline Spills Water Containing Gasoline Into Michigan Wetlands
Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) issued a violation notice to Energy Transfer Partners after its Rover pipeline project spilled water containing gasoline into wetlands near Pinckney.
The violation notice was issued after the department's Water Resources Division (WRD) staff received a complaint on Wednesday regarding a petroleum odor coming from water discharged from the pipeline project near the northern crossing of Dexter-Townhall Road in Washtenaw County.
Upon inspecting the site, WRD staff noted a petroleum odor and observed a sheen in the dewatering enclosure. Staff from the Remediation and Redevelopment Division inspected the site on Thursday and also noted the presence of a petroleum odor and determined a nearby former gas station was the likely source.
"Due to the observed odors and the close proximity to a former gas station, the source of the petroleum is likely to be contaminated groundwater from a release at the former gas station," the violation notice states. "The contaminated groundwater is being captured through the dewatering process, which is being employed for the pipeline installation and is being discharged to the wetland. Regardless of the potential source, the presence of odor and sheen indicates a discharge of petroleum-contaminated water from the dewatering activities being conducted on site."
Because of the petroleum contamination, the company must apply for a special permit and treat the water prior to discharging it, MDEQ said. Additionally, the water withdrawal system should be registered with the DEQ prior to operating because it has the capacity to pump more than 100,000 gallons a day.
"Finally, Rover's dewatering activities may be exacerbating the spread of contaminated groundwater," the notice states.
The company has until Oct. 18, to submit a written response confirming intents and summarizing actions to resolve the issues.
"While the department recognizes that Energy Transfer is taking immediate action to address the violations outlined in the notice, the DEQ's priority is protecting public health and protecting the environment," a MDEQ spokesperson told EcoWatch.
According to a press release from Michigan Residents Against the ET Rover Pipeline, local residents first noticed the spill at the pipeline's construction easement on Dexter Townhall Rd. where the right-of-way crosses a wetland.
The residents estimated that hundreds of gallons of water per minute had been spilling over a silt-fence reservoir meant to temporarily contain water moving from one wetland to another. The residents noticed that the water smelled strongly of gasoline.
An Energy Transfer Partners spokesperson told EcoWatch on Friday—before the violation notice was issued—that the water is coming from a dewatering well point system.
"The water is pumping through one of the silt fencing structures and due to the heavy rainfall we have had periodically the last few days, the well point system is bringing decomposing organic vegetation from underground up to the surface with the water," the spokesperson said. "The FERC monitor and the Michigan DEQ monitors have both been onsite and have stated that the work is going according to plan. We will continue to work with both agencies as a precautionary measure."
Once complete, the 713-mile Rover pipeline will carry fracked gas across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan and Canada. Construction has been plagued by numerous environmental violations, including a 2 million gallon drilling fluid spill into an Ohio wetland in April.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Allegra Kirkland, Jeremy Deaton, Molly Taft, Mina Lee and Josh Landis
Climate change is already here. It's not something that can simply be ignored by cable news or dismissed by sitting U.S. senators in a Twitter joke. Nor is it a fantastical scenario like The Day After Tomorrow or 2012 that starts with a single crack in the Arctic ice shelf or earthquake tearing through Los Angeles, and results, a few weeks or years later, in the end of life on Earth as we know it.
Air pollution particles that a pregnant woman inhales have the potential to travel through the lungs and breach the fetal side of the placenta, indicating that unborn babies are exposed to black carbon from motor vehicles and fuel burning, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Teen activist Greta Thunberg delivered a talking-to to members of Congress Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate Climate Change Task Force after politicians praised her and other youth activists for their efforts and asked their advice on how to fight climate change.
The University of California system will dump all of its investments from fossil fuels, as the Associated Press reported. The university system controls over $84 billion between its pension fund and its endowment. However, the announcement about its investments is not aimed to please activists.
By Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
World leaders have a formidable task: setting a course to save our future. The extreme weather made more frequent and severe by climate change is here. This spring, devastating cyclones impacted 3 million people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Record heatwaves are hitting Europe and other regions — this July was the hottest month in modern record globally. Much of India is again suffering severe drought.
By Mark Hertsgaard
The United Nations Secretary General says that he is counting on public pressure to compel governments to take much stronger action against what he calls the climate change "emergency."