Oklahoma-based pipeline builders have agreed to pay more than $700,000 in penalties for violating environmental protection laws while constructing the Atlantic Sunrise line, which passes through western Lancaster County.
In a settlement with state regulators, officials at Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC agreed to the fine after they were accused of endangering Pennsylvania waterways by discharging industrial waste and failing to control erosion and sediments among other missteps.
Those violations were outlined in an agreement signed in August and September by officials with the pipeline company and the state Department of Environmental Protection, who say the builders “created a danger of pollution to waters” when they failed to work within the scope of issued permits.
“Impacts from construction activities that harm or have the potential to harm waters of the commonwealth are unacceptable, and we will continue to hold operators accountable,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a statement that appeared alongside the Tuesday settlement announcement.
A spokesman for Transco’s parent company Williams Partners also provided a statement Tuesday, pointing to inclement weather during the pipeline's construction.
“During the extensive construction phase of the project, isolated severe weather events led to erosion-related issues that were quickly addressed once identified,” it reads. “Williams promptly notified state and local regulatory authorities who were kept informed until the issues were resolved.”
Those issues arose as part of a $3 billion project, which extended the nearly 300-mile Atlantic Sunrise through 10 Pennsylvania counties, carrying natural gas south. In Lancaster County, it crosses about 250 properties across 37 miles.
The completed pipeline has been in service since October 2018.
Violations mentioned in the recent settlement were discovered during inspections carried out by officials at the DEP and county conservation districts beginning in 2017.
A DEP news release said the civil penalty was for violations “associated with the construction of the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline in Columbia, Lancaster, Lebanon, Luzerne, Lycoming, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties.”
All told, Transco officials have agreed to pay $736,294.11 — $680,000 of which will be paid to the DEP. The remaining $56,294.11 will be distributed to county conservation districts that completed pipeline construction inspections, according to the announcement.
Lancaster County Conservation district will receive $5,518.63, according to the agreement.
Transco officials also have agreed to pay $100,000 to fund water improvements in Northumberland County.