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Mountain Valley Pipeline defends epoxy coating against public criticism

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Mountain Valley Pipeline defends epoxy coating against public criticism

Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that epoxy coatings on its 2-Bcf/d natural gas transportation project are safe for people and the environment, responding to public concern in Virginia.

"To Mountain Valley's knowledge, there is no evidence that the use of epoxy coatings present a risk to human health, aquatic life, or other environmental receptors through any foreseeable exposure pathway," Jeffrey Klinefelter, vice president of construction and engineering for Mountain Valley, said in a July 30 letter to FERC.

Mountain Valley Pipeline, a joint venture of EQM Midstream Partners LP, NextEra Energy Inc., Con Edison Transmission Inc., RGC Midstream LLC and WGL Midstream Inc., submitted the letter after FERC requested information about the coatings, which are used to protect pipelines from corrosion. In a July 10 request, FERC staff asked for toxicological information after the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and landowners raised concerns over potentially hazardous ingredients, including organic solvents such as methyl isobutyl ketone and paraxylene.

Mountain Valley said epoxy coatings have been in use for over 50 years. The pipeline company said published studies, notes from coating manufacturers and other information demonstrate that these types of coatings do not present a risk to human health, even when the coating is exposed to groundwater that might be a source of drinking water.

"Approximately 99.8% of the total pipeline length will be covered by pre-applied [fusion-bonded epoxy] coatings (98.3%) or field-applied liquid epoxy coatings that contain no organic solvents," Mountain Valley said. The coating on 95% of the coated pipe surface area on the Mountain Valley project is 3M Scotchkote FBE 6233, according to the company.

The Mountain Valley developers have encountered legal and regulatory challenges to pipeline construction, including fines for environmental violations and stripped permissions that halted construction on parts of the line. FERC approved the Mountain Valley project in October 2017 and let the developer start early work on the project in January 2018.

The 300-mile pipeline would move Appalachian gas from West Virginia to Virginia. It would interconnect with other pipeline systems to move the gas to markets in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast. (FERC docket CP16-10)