What Laws Were Violated When A Pittsburgh Pipeline Exploded?

ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC was slammed with nine counts of violating the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law, which governs a company’s responsibility for dumping pollutants. The subsidiary of Dallas-based company Energy Transfer LP was tasked with constructing a natural gas pipeline to deliver the utility to neighboring Butler County. During construction, an explosion was reported near Pittsburgh.

Several private vehicles, a barn, and a home were destroyed by a blaze triggered by the explosion — which occurred after a landslide in 2018. No one was injured.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the “explosion happened because of Energy Transfer’s negligence as they built the Revolution pipeline.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection slammed the company with a $30 million fine following the accident.

It’s unlikely the explosion will be the last incident.

Pennsylvania House Bill 1842 was advanced late last year, and would provide the DEP with 12 month to resolve questions about how much of specific pollutants companies can legally dump before reporting. Currently, companies must report spills no matter what the pollutant is or how much is spilled. The law’s opposition argues that the new law isn’t pragmatic and will make enforcement nearly impossible.

Representative David Zimmerman (R-Lancaster) sponsored the bill. He said, “DEP is all about writing reports and issuing fines, but cleaning up actual spills and determining them as true pollutants seems to not be their forte.”

Representative Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) argued, “We are being asked to force DEP to anticipate every possible spill scenario ahead of time and write regulations dictating the regulatory requirements for each one.”

Consider that most new regulations take at least 24 months to write, and you have an idea that Frankel is on the right track.

Governor Wolf opposes the new law. His administration released a statement saying the bill  “makes it easier to pollute our waters by eliminating critical safeguards in the Clean Streams Law that protect our waterways.”