Both of Spectra’s principal representatives to the Lowndes County Commission and the Dougherty County Commission claim not to be familiar with Spectra’s well-known public record of safety violations, and some of what they say contradicts the public record, so how can we believe any of their safety assertions about Spectra’s proposed Sabal Trail Transmission pipeline?
Update 3PM: more evidence from Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
As I’ve mentioned before, Spectra’s Andrea Grover told us that everyone in Pennsylvania was happy now, after I asked her about the Steckman Ridge compressor station leak in front of reporter Matthew Woody, at the 16 October 2013 Spectra meeting at Wiregrass Tech in Valdosta. There’s more beyond the article about pipeline fines and incidents Woody wrote 24 November 2013 for the Valdosta Daily Times (VDT), the local newspaper of record.
Her excuse for the compressor leak, if I recall correctly, was that there are two compressors and it was the other one, and besides occasional releases are normal. Plus since she talked to them everybody in Pennsylvania is happy.
At the same October meeting, I also asked her about the Final Order against Spectra of 21 December 2012 by PHMSA, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. That final order for fines on five different points cited failure to follow both federal regulations and Spectra’s own company procedures. She disclaimed any familiarity with that.
She still disclaimed any familiarity with that more than a month later, in front the WALB TV camera Monday 9 October 2013.
With WALB I mentioned to her not only the PHMSA Final Order but also the record $15 million EPA fine in 1989 against Spectra for PCB spills at 89 pipeline sites in 1989. She disclaimed any familiarity with any of those fines. She did say that after PCBs were made illegal in the 1970s that Spectra stopped using them. I pointed out on camera that the EPA fine was well after that.
Curious how she hadn’t bothered to gain any familiarity even after I asked her about the PHMSA Final Order in October and the VDT named her in Woody’s article about fines in November. Since she lists herself on linkedin as “Director, Stakeholder Outreach at Spectra Energy” I would hope she follows the local newspapers where she has previously been quoted.
Back on 22 September 2013 Matthew Woody quoted Grover in the VDT:
Safety is a huge factor when it comes to a project of this magnitude. Since the Southeast is prone to hurricanes and tornadoes, Sabal Trail considered that, and said their pipeline will be made to withstand those events. Also, the pipe will be monitored 24/7. The monitoring system will be fitted with sensors which would detect leaks. The pipeline will have shut-off valves that will be shut off remotely in the event of a leak. Sabal Trail will walk the pipeline regularly checking for anomalies, such as the changing of the color of the grass, which is an indicator that the pipe requires maintenance at that location.
Yet one reason for that PHMSA Final Order was that at least one of Spectra’s own employees revealed that, according to Natural Gas Watch 19 June 2013, “Spectra Energy Employee: We Never Bothered to Check Natural Gas Pipeline for Corrosion”.
Which corroborates the actual Final Order to Spectra CEO Gregory L. Ebel of 21 December 2012, which reads in part:
The Notice alleged that Respondent violated 49 C.F.R. §19 2.475 (b) by failing, in two instances, to inspect the internal surface of removed sections of pipe for evidence of corrosion. Specifically, the Notice alleged that inspection reports indicated Respondent failed to inspect the internal surface of certain pipe sections for evidence of corrosion, even though they had been repaired by welding in two full circumference sections of pipe.
Respondent did not contest this allegation of violation. Accordingly, based upon a review of all of the evidence, I find that Respondent violated 49 C.F.R. §192.475 (b) by failing, in two instances, to inspect the internal surface of removed sections of pipe for evidence of corrosion.
WALB didn’t air much of that video, but you can see her claiming Spectra is oh so responsive to PHMSA. Why should we believe Grover’s safety assertions, when she claims unfamiliarity with Spectra’s safety record, and what she does say sometimes contradicts the public record?
Before I dragged Grover on camera (to be fair, she readily agreed to be on TV), Spectra rep. Brian Fahrenthold (visible in the background in the WALB video) also disclaimed any familiarity with any of those fines. Local activist Mary Booker recorded the moment.
Fahrenthold’s “unfamiliar” was what irritated me enough to drag Grover onto camera. I picked her instead of him because I had already asked her about fines, so she had no excuse not to have an answer.
Yet both of Spectra’s primary representatives to the Lowndes County Commission to present Spectra’s case claimed unfamiliarity with Spectra’s well-known track record of major fines.
So how can we believe what Fahrenthold told the Dougherty County Commission, according to the Albany Herald, 16 September 2013,
Brian Fahrenthold, the state and local government affairs director for Houston-based Spectra Energy, assured commissioners and landowners impacted by the pipeline that his company will “meet or exceed all safety standards” required by federal officials during construction of the $3 billion project that will, when completed, send 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day into Florida from central Alabama.
First, note he only said “during construction”. What about during the longterm hazard Spectra proposes to leave plowed through our rivers, wetlands, fields, and near our churches, schools, and homes? And how can we believe any of his safety assertions when he says he is unfamiliar with Spectra’s own safety record?
How can we believe what Brian Fahrenthold asserted to the Lowndes County Commission in an open public meeting only a few minutes before he disclaimed that familiarity? As quoted in the VDT (with LAKE videos), he said:
How can we believe any of Grover’s or Fahrenthold’s safety asseertions?
Who at Spectra can actually claim any familiarity with Spectra’s safety violations, and who does have any control over them?