Late this afternoon, DTE submitted a request to the FERC that it provide the certificate and all related authorizations for the proposed Birdsboro pipeline that would deliver gas to the proposed Birdsboro power plant.
Berks Gas Truth has submitted the following letter of protest to FERC. Find links to DTE’s request and to the lawsuit filed by Birdsboro Power LLC mentioned in our letter below.
February 9, 2018
Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE, Room 1A
Washington, DC 20426
Re: Docket No. CP17-409-000 (Birdsboro Pipeline Project)
This letter is submitted to the docket to ask that you deny DTE’s request for issuance of a certificate and related authorizations for its proposed Birdsboro pipeline by February 15, 2018.
We have received no response from the Commission on the letter we submitted on December 10 regarding the lawsuit filed by Birdsboro Power LLC against the federal government for the cost of cleaning up the ‘significant remaining contamination’ on the site where one end of the DTE pipeline would be constructed and operate. In its filing, the company reports that in 2016, environmental assessments of the property found asbestos materials in 16 buildings, unspecified hazardous materials located throughout the site, PCBs and other unspecified contaminants at levels higher than state health standards, and PCB-, VOC-, and SVOC-laced water in sumps and pits at levels higher than state health standards. We would also remind the Commission that five days before Birdsboro Power LLC filed its lawsuit, a worker on the site had to be hospitalized after he punctured a chlorine gas canister, one of apparently several buried on the site.
We noted in our December 10 letter that no mention of the contamination was made in the Environmental Assessment upon which the company is now asking you to act. Electing to do an Environmental Assessment of a site with a long history of contamination was an egregious error on the part of the Commission. Even worse, the 200-page Environmental Assessment contains no mention of the contamination. PCBs, asbestos, chlorine gas, and contaminates mentioned, but not named in the lawsuit, cannot be treated lightly, much less ignored. At minimum, the Commission should restart the process by preparing the Environmental Impact Statement that should have been done at the outset.
On January 26, representatives of Berks Gas Truth and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network met with the representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to discuss our concerns. Senator Judy Schwank’s office organized the meeting. We found the representatives to be unprepared to answer most of our questions. We did learn, however, that the agency has never requested, nor has it received, copies of the Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental assessments commissioned by Birdsboro Power LLC in 2016. Although the assessments are done as part of the real estate transaction, they contain valuable information the public deserves to know. Except for a handful of media stories spanning more than a decade, information about contamination on the site has not been made public. Not by the PA DEP and not by you.
It is indisputable that the public was effectively cut out of the public participation process by their federal and state regulators.
The Commission needs to do an exhaustive and transparent environmental review of the site where the proposed pipeline would terminate. An informed public needs to have the opportunity to comment the results of that review.
DTE cites an in-service date as its rationale for this request. Surely, the company is not interested in rushing a process when public health and safety are at risk due to very real circumstances overlooked by the Commission’s Environmental Assessment. The communities and workers who will suffer the consequences of a rush to approve deserve better.
Karen Feridun, Founder, Berks Gas Truth
Enclosure: Birdsboro Power LLC v. United States of America
CC: Senator Robert Mensch
Senator John Rafferty
Senator Judy Schwank
Representative David Maloney
Representative Ryan Mackenzie
Representative Ryan Costello
Senator Robert Casey
Senator Pat Toomey
Mr. Kenneth Magyar, DTE