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Michigan cites Rover Pipeline over gasoline-tainted water discharge

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Michigan cites Rover Pipeline over gasoline-tainted water discharge

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued a violation notice to Energy Transfer Partners LP's Rover Pipeline LLC, which already suffered construction setbacks after drilling fluid spills in Ohio, for a release of gasoline-contaminated water during dewatering operations on the pipeline project in Michigan.

The incident could become another problem for the $4.2 billion natural gas pipeline project. The project hit delays after the Ohio spills in the first half of the year as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency investigated. On Oct. 11, FERC cleared Rover to resume horizontal drilling at sites in Ohio.

"We are working cooperatively with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on the issue in Dexter Township," Energy Transfer spokeswoman Vicki Granado said in an Oct. 16 email. "Both the company and the DEQ have independently collected water samples for testing. Detailed results will be available later this week."

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recognized that the source of the contamination was probably an old gasoline station near where the pipeline project crosses a road in Washtenaw County, Mich., but it still blamed the discharge on Rover's dewatering operations. Rover should have treated the water before releasing it, the agency said. A continued unpermitted discharge is a violation of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. The agency said the discharge had entered wetlands on the Portage River.

To resolve the issues, the agency demanded that Rover stop the discharges, submit an application for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit and register the water withdrawal with the state. (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality violation notice VN-007795)

Locals vented about the discharge in a news release issued by Earthworks on behalf of Michigan Residents Against the ET Rover Pipeline. "To the best of our understanding, it appears that a dewatering system has turned into an active wetlands contamination system," said Cliff Rowley, a resident of Pinckney, Mich.

Some components of the pipeline project, which will eventually flow up to 3.25 Bcf/d of gas, are already in service. (FERC docket CP15-93)

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