Tag Archives: Hurricane Irma

Pinocchio or Vulcan? Still claims Sabal Trail is safe 2017-09-14

Is Ms. Grover is a Vulcan now?

Asked why a pipeline dispatcher apparently told the fire department that “this was a new system and they are still learning,” Grover responds that “it would be illogical to speculate as to what the fire department has quoted as part of a conversation.”

Or are those just Pinocchio donkey ears? That would be more logical.

Who do you believe? A local county fire department, or someone paid by a pipeline company to put the best face on any event? Especially when she didn’t actually deny anything Marion County Fire Rescue reported?

Amy Martyn, Company says its natural gas pipeline ‘operated safely’ through Hurricane Irma; However, activists say the Sabal Trail Pipeline is dangerous and needs to be removed,

The Sabal Trail Pipeline, a new natural gas pipeline that critics have charged is uncomfortably close to Florida’s main aquifer, “operated safely throughout Hurricane Irma,” a spokesperson with the pipeline operator tells ConsumerAffairs.

“We were and continue to be able to meet any customer needs,” says an email from Andrea Grover of Enbridge Energy, the natural gas company behind the Sabal Trail Pipeline. “Operations was not affected by the hurricane impacts.”

Andrea Grover’s linkedin page lists her as “Director, Stakeholder Outreach at Enbridge (Oil & Gas)”. For four years we were told the pipeline’s “stakeholders” were landowners along the way.

You know, like Brooks County, Georgia, farmer Randy Dowdy, whose world-record-holding soybean fields Sabal Trail destroyed, causing generational damage that Sabal Trail has not addressed.

Or Robin Koon, whose family graveyard Sabal Trail disturbed, which is part of why he helped Sierra Club, Flint Riverkeeper, and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper get standing for their recent historic victory over FERC that could still shut down Sabal Trail and already was cited in a denial of a different pipeline.

Curious how now that Sabal Trail has gotten its pipe in the ground, Ms. Grover no longer mentions “stakeholders,” just “customer needs.” Which is all Sabal Trail has been about all along: profit for a few utilities and pipeline companies, and for the frackers in the Marcellus Shale and Oklahoma and elsewhere to sell their greenhouse-gas-producing product through a 500-mile IED. Even FPL has admitted Florida needs no new electricity until 2024 at the earliest, and a stock analyst has revealed that all Sabal Trail is doing is decreasing gas shipped into Florida through FGT and Gulfstream by the same amount Sabal Trail is shipping. Why did local landowners have to give up easements for nothing but profit for utiltiies, frackers, and Spectra Energy of Houston, Texas, now owned by Enbridge of Calgary, Alberta, Canada?

But is Sabal Trail even serving those customers well? Cody Suggs reported yesterday from the Hildreth Compressor Station site near O’Brien, in Suwannee County, Florida, that power is still off there and it took two days for trees to be cleared off the access road.


Photo: Cody Suggs at Sabal Trail Hildreth Compressor Station Site 2017-09-14.

Natural gas began flowing through the Sabal Trail Pipeline in June 2017. People like John Quarterman, a Georgia landowner and activist with WWALS Watershed Coalition, a group that aims to protect watersheds in Georgia and Florida, say that federal regulators are typically asleep at the wheel for these projects.

“We have this 500-mile improvised explosive device, under our rivers, next to our schools and next to people’s houses and nobody is handling pipeline safety,” he tells ConsumerAffairs.

Well, I remember three years ago when Ms. Grover said she found it “hard to believe” that Sabal Trail was threatening landowners with eminent domain until the Valdosta Daily Times (VDT) published one of the actual letters.

Ms. Grover’s response? She used the VDT to threaten landowners with eminent domain.

That was shortly after Sabal Trail attempted to claim customers in Georgia to justify the Georgia eminent domain they were threatening, but didn’t bother to contact the local governments they claimed needed the gas.

Four years ago, Ms. Grover and Brian Fahrenthold, “the state and local government affairs director for Houston-based Spectra Energy”, told me they were “not familiar with” Spectra’s well-known public record of safety violations. She did claim everybody in Pennsylvania was happy after the infamous Steckman Ridge Compressor Station leak, for which she was called in to do spin control, which led to a rebuttal from Pennsylvania, beginning:

“I speak for more than a dozen families who live next to or near the problematic compressor facility; and your statement is incorrect and misleading.”

Neither Ms. Grover nor Spectra Energy ever responded to that rebuttal, to my knowledge.

Please let me be clear: this is not about Ms. Grover personally. As I told her the first time I met her, she is the best I have ever seen at doing her job. Which is to market her company.

Too bad her company is a pipeline company that gouged under our rivers, causing a frac-out and sinkholes, destroyed farmlands, goes right past schools and homes, and has already leaked hazardous Mercaptan at its Dunnellon, Florida, Compressor Station site.

That Steckman Ridge Compressor Station blowout? They called in Ms. Grover because another “stakeholder outreach” Spectra Energy rep. had to backtrack. And for that 2009 incident, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania fined Spectra in 2010.

Back to the ConsumerAffairs story:

Sinkholes and hurricanes

Florida’s landscape is characterized by karst terrain, or land made of porous limestone, caverns, and water dissolving into the bedrock, all of which are a recipe for sinkholes. Man-made infrastructure can increase the chance of a sinkhole forming, and so can intense rain.

“Man-induced sinkholes typically involve collapse of old mine workings, drainage infrastructure or other underground workings,” explained meteorologist Jim Andrews in one recent report. “Naturally, such can fail over time, and rainfall can be a major factor.”

In fact, at least four homes have been evacuated in central Florida this week after sinkholes formed in the wake of Hurricane Irma, according to reporters on the scene. Still, Enbridge Energy says that their pipeline can handle sinkhole-prone terrain.

Well, we’ve already come pretty close to finding out, with a sinkhole a half mile away Monday from Sabal Trail’s sister Florida Southeast Connection (FSC).

Sinkhole, FPL pipeline, FLiNG, FSC
Sinkhole, FPL pipeline, FLiNG, FSC; map by John S. Quarterman for WWALS.

Back to the ConsumerAffairs story:

“While opposition has raised the issue of the pipeline being constructed in karst terrain, this was thoroughly examined by the appropriate federal and state agencies,” responds Enbridge representative Andrea Grover by email. “They concluded it was unlikely that Sabal Trail would impact springs or the Floridan Aquifer in the karst regions. Sabal Trail is well equipped to safely construct and operate the pipeline in karst areas.”

Violations Sabal Trail and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) told us would not happen, under oath in WWALS vs. Sabal Trail & FDEP (October 2015), have already been happening.


Photo of John S. Quarterman at Sabal Trail frac-out into the Withlacoochee River between Quitman and Valdosta, Georgia: Bruce Ritchie, Politico, 17 November 2016.

But Quarterman says he does not trust the company to voluntarily report any issues that may arise. Activists with his group who live along the pipeline route have been tracking the project themselves, both before and after Hurricane Irma, to make sure no leaks, sinkholes underneath the pipeline, or any other issues have occurred.

Why, yes, I do have some sceptism about that.

As always, there’s more in the story.

No more pipelines. Here are some things you can do to help with that.

Let the sun rise on Florida, Georgia, Alabama, the southeast, and the rest of the country and the world.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Valdosta report of spill at Cherry Creek Lift Station 2017-09-12

City Council Tim Carroll forwarded me the appended press release yesterday. I assumed it would be on Valdosta’s News page, but it is not.

Goodyear (Skipper Bridge) Station

Also, despite assurances back in January that Continue reading

Cherry Creek Lift Station Spill, Bemiss Road, Valdosta, GA

Valdosta had one spill at a lift station that lost power during Tropical Storm Irma, said David Frost, Interim Utilities Director, City of Valdosta, when I called him just now. I asked him if there were any others, and he said there was just that one.

Parcel 0146A-094G
Parcel 0146A 094G

He said it was a small spill. I asked how small. He said Continue reading

No spills from Valdosta wastewater plants during Tropical Storm Irma 2017-09-12

Update 2017-09-12: But one small lift station spill.

William “Ricky” Cornelius, Plant Superintendent, Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), said when I called him this morning there were no spills from WWTP nor from Valdosta’s Mud Creek Treatment Plant (MCWTP).

“I don’t think Mud Creek even lost power. We were on generator power here at the Withlacoochee plant, and our people had to work extra hours, but they were on top of it. We were prepared and had no spills.”

I have left a message at Valdosta Utilities about any manhole cover leaks. We shall see about those, and about other cities and counties and private wastewater facilities up and down the Suwannee River Basin.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Valdosta WWTP manned 24/7 with backup generators before Hurricane Irma 2017-09-09

Don’t spill, Valdosta. Don’t leak, Sabal Trail. Hurricane Irma is bad enough already.

Valdosta announced its WWTP would be “manned around the clock”, so I called down there before 8AM this Saturday morning, and somebody did answer immediately. I told him as Suwannee Riverkeeper I was concerned for people downstream who don’t want any spills during the upcoming rains, so I was glad to see it was true they were there. I asked him if they had backup generators. He said yes. Of course, that doesn’t handle every manhole cover. We shall see. Don’t spill, Valdosta! (Or Lowndes County, or Tifton, or anybody else.)

NOAA NHC Rain Prediction, Hurricane Irma, 9 Sep 2017
Currently expecting somewhere between 4 and 10 inches of rain on Valdosta. Map from National Hurricane Center, 2017-09-09 8AM.

City of Valdosta, PR, 8 September 2017, Valdosta-Lowndes County Hurricane Irma Update, Continue reading

Canceled: Pafford’s Landing Cleanup due to Hurricane Irma 2019-09-08

Everyone is a bit preoccupied right now tying things down for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever observed, so the Outings Committee has canceled this Sunday’s Rivers Alive Cleanup and Paddle Outing on the Alapaha River at Pafford’s Landing. Hurricane Irma may still decide to go east or west, but for a hurricane, better safe than sorry. Depending on the aftermath, we may reschedule for next weekend; stay tuned.

Category 1
These maps are details from New York Times, UPDATED 12:45 PM ET, SEPT. 8, 2017, Maps: Tracking Hurricane Irma’s Path.

Madison to Ocala

Four days ago Florida governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in all 67 Florida counties, and Monroe County, including Key West, was evacuating.

Irma is currently predicted to drop from Continue reading