Tag Archives: Valdosta Daily Times

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!

Sabal Trail says hazaradous Mercaptan leaks are no danger to the public 2017-08-17

OSHA says the Mercaptan that was smelled miles from the leak “can cause problems for the respiratory system and the central nervous system” but Sabal Trail’s Andrea Grover says “there is no danger to the public”. Which do you believe?

Pinocchio Hint: this is the same Andrea Grover about which the newspaper of record in Valdosta, Georgia wrote four years ago:

Letters submitted to the Valdosta Daily Times and to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could contradict a recent statement by Sabal Trail’s Andrea Grover.

Looks like we have Pinocchio with her nose growing doing PR for the Three Stooges.

Jessica Lipscomb, Miami New Times, 17 August 2017, Stinky Leaks From Florida’s Controversial Sabal Trail Pipeline Scares Residents, Continue reading

VDT corrects Valdosta drinking water story 2017-05-17

Congratulations City of Valdosta! You got the VDT to issue a correction for that one sentence a week ago, even though the VDT blamed it on “a source cited in the article”, and came up with yet another number of violations that doesn’t match what NRDC says nor what Valdosta says, with still no specific comparisons to other local governments. So it’s a correction that doesn’t resolve anything. And you’re not helping your credibility problem, Valdosta, by quibbling over a single digit while neglecting to mention an entire year in which you did have drinking water violations that match what’s in NRDC’s map.

Correction, red faced non-admission
Valdosta Daily Times, page 3A, 17 May 2017

CORRECTION

An article headlined “Report. Georgia 5th in drinking water violations,” published 1n the May 10 edition of The Valdosta Daily Times contained an error that originated from a source cited in the article.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division said in an email, “Valdosta had six violations: two total coliform violations (one monitoring violation and one MCL exceedance) and four haloacetic acid violations (four consecutive quarters of a running annual average MCL exceedance from one sample location). These violations have all been resolved in an old database that preceded our current database. This actual violation was resolved in 1998.”

This correction is on page 3A, below the Crime Report. It does have a big red CORRECTION header, but Continue reading

SDWA Health Violations: Valdosta, Lowndes County, and beyond 2017-05-02

The VDT and the City of Valdosta are feuding again about water quality, this time about drinking water (not sewage). Lowndes County They’re both wrong and both right, and neither named any of the other poor local water sources. The VDT didn’t make this story easy to follow by omitting the key piece from its first online story and not quoting its source, and the city didn’t acknowledge some main points the VDT made.

Kimberly Cannon, Valdosta Daily Times, 10 May 2017, City celebrates water: Mayor refutes water quality report, Continue reading

Valdosta and Lowndes County water treatment quality compared to region

Valdosta indeed didn’t have the worst water treatment violations in Lowndes County, Georgia, but it was worse than any nearby city in Georgia or Florida (and Lowndes County was worse than any nearby county). Once again, the Valdosta Daily Times said (twice) that Valdosta “is now in full compliance”. This is about drinking water treatment; sewage is another story. But in both cases, if Valdosta doesn’t want the local newspaper to treat the city as the villain of the piece, maybe it should stop reacting like one.

Georgia and Florida

The above screenshot from Threats on Tap: Widespread Violations Highlight Need for Investment in Water Infrastructure and Protections shows Georgia has been pretty bad, but Florida was much worse.

Let’s look at the area around Valdosta. Continue reading

Video: Randy Dowdy in VDT 2017-05-05

“We’ve got loss of production for the future that will take not my lifetime, not my kids’ lifetime, but my kids’ kids’ lifetime to recover from,” Randy Dowdy

Daniel DeMersseman, Valdosta Daily Times, 5 May 2017, Farmer: Sabal Trail devastated farm,

QUITMAN — A Brooks County farmer said Wednesday the controversial Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline has ruined his farmland.


“We’ve got loss of production for the future that will take not my lifetime, not my kids’ lifetime, but my kids’ kids’ lifetime to recover from,” Randy Dowdy, interviewed by Daniel DeMersseman, Valdosta Daily Times.

Randy Dowdy is a major corn and soybean producer. In fact, he holds a world’s record for soybean production and a U.S. record for corn production but now he says his award-winning farm is in jeopardy.

Daniel Demersseman (VDT), Randy Dowdy (farmer)
Daniel Demersseman (VDT), Randy Dowdy (farmer), photo by John S. Quarterman for WWALS Watershed Coalition

Environmentalists held a press conference this week alongside Dowdy to say their worst fears about the pipeline have been realized.

“Sabal Trail gouged its pipeline through Continue reading

More than 100,000 acres and Billy’s Island in West Mims Fire 2017-05-03

We got smoked here in western Lowndes County yesterday and this morning 60 miles from the West Mims fire as it went up to 107,846 acres in and around the Okefenokee NWR. Many of the fire-fighting numbers went down since last post: remember, the goal is not to put the fire out, rather to contain it. As I write, a big storm just went over here heading that way, so maybe mother nature will take a hand today.

The Valdosta Daily Times has been covering this fire right along, most recently by Terry Richards, VDT, 2 May 2017, Rain barely felt at massive swamp fire,

FARGO — A mild rainfall Monday had little to no impact on the West Mims Fire burning through the Okefenokee Swamp, according to a firefighter.

The blaze, which had burned more than 100,000 acres by Tuesday afternoon, received about a tenth of an inch of rain from a weak cold front that moved through South Georgia Monday.

“It didn’t help,” said Leland Bass, a firefighter and public information officer for the Georgia Forestry Commission.

Maybe they’ll get more rain in the swamp today. Continue reading