260 E. Main Street, Kutztown, PA 19530 firstname.lastname@example.org 610-678-7726 gastruth.org
December 22, 2017
Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First St. NE, Room 1 A
Washington, D.C. 20426
RE: Project Docket # CP17-409-000
Dear Ms. Bose:
Berks Gas Truth is a grassroots organization of more than 1,000 members in Berks County, Pennsylvania. We have reviewed the letter submitted by DTE responding to our concerns regarding contamination at the proposed Birdsboro power plant site and other matters and offer the following response:
- DTE is attempting to define for the Commission the scope of its environmental review and is doing so outside of the scoping process that occurred several months before the public became aware of the contamination on the Birdsboro power plant site. BGT’s call for an Environmental Impact Statement is based on information that was not available to the public at the time it had an opportunity to comment. If DTE and/or FERC were privy to information about the contamination stated within Birdsboro Power, LLC’s legal filing, then either or both parties withheld information the public should have been able to consider during the scoping process. If neither party was aware of the contamination, stated in the lawsuit as having been provided to the company in July 2016, then the decision to do an Environmental Assessment rather than an Environmental Impact Statement was based on incomplete information. In either scenario, the public’s best interests and, in the case of those who live in proximity of the projects, their health and safety are not being protected if an Environmental Impact Statement is not prepared.
- DTE continues to argue that “comments regarding the Birdsboro facility are beyond the scope of this proceeding.” Although we disagree that the cumulative impacts of the project under consideration are beyond the scope of this proceeding, an argument the courts have also rejected in recent months, our comments are about the site on which the pipeline would be constructed and connected to the power plant and that makes the contamination on the site absolutely relevant. Building a pipeline isn’t as simple as poking a stick in the ground or scooping up a bit of dirt with a teaspoon. The construction on the site would be a massive operation and disruption. It is disingenuous and factually inaccurate to suggest otherwise.
- DTE discusses the site as a whole. The fact is that, at present, given that a worker was exposed to chlorine gas when his track loader punctured a canister on November 16th, nobody seems to know where all of the contamination is on the site. It would appear that contaminants are located in many locations, some of them unknown, on the site. It is not possible to generalize about the site.
- An environmental review of the DTE project cannot be considered complete until much more is known about the condition of the site as a whole, the condition of the portion of the site where the pipeline would be constructed, and the possibility of remediating the site. Even Birdsboro Power, LLC’s filing does not name all of the contaminants found on the site. And its construction partner Kiewit didn’t know that chlorine gas was present on the site or knew it was there, but just didn’t know where.
- DTE says that “BGT alleges” a level of contamination. No. We don’t. We have relied on Birdsboro Power, LLC’s own language in its legal filing that we attached with our comment. We additionally consider the media reports of the chlorine gas leak five days before the suit was filed. We make no assumptions about the level of contamination. DTE and FERC shouldn’t either.
- We do question the possibility of remediating the site, in part, because we don’t know the extent of the contamination and because Birdsboro Power, LLC’s own account of remediation efforts for the asbestos on the site alone mentions attempts that spanned 2004 through 2009 and still the July 2016 Phase II assessment found asbestos in 16 buildings on the site. Immediately after a five-year clean up by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Pennsylvania DEP, an environmental assessment in October 2009, shortly after the clean up ended, found asbestos on the site. It also found 12 Recognized Environmental Conditions. The 2016 assessment found 19. The assessments and clean ups are clearly not working. Here is some of Birdsboro Power’s own language:
- Recent analyses and surveys have demonstrated significant remaining contamination of PCBs and other hazardous substances at the Site.
- Releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances into the environment have occurred at the Site within the meaning of Section 101(22) of CERCLA, 42 U.S .C. § 9601(22).
- Plaintiff has undertaken, and continues to undertake, response actions at the Site in response to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, and has incurred and is incurring necessary costs of response consistent with the NCP…
- We are asking the Commission tasked with doing an environmental review of the project for the answers to our pertinent questions about whether or not anything can be built on that site, even just the portion where DTE’s pipeline would be constructed and the surrounding areas that could be impacted by the construction. The answers to our questions are not in the EA because they were never asked.
- DTE can assert as much as it likes that an Environmental Impact Statement is not necessary, but it lacks exactly the information we need from an EIS to make such assertions.
- Berks Gas Truth once again urges the Commission to do an Environmental Impact Statement for the DTE Birdsboro pipeline.
Berks Gas Truth
Read DTE’s letter here: