Spectra’s history of accidents and ties to FL Gov. Scott

Do we want to risk Sabal Trail’s fracked methane pipeline blowing out under the Suwannee or Withlacoochee Rivers like Spectra’s Texas Eastern Pipeline blew out under the Arkansas River in May? WWALS doesn’t, which is why we filed the petition to Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection asking them not to issue a permit for Sabal Trail.

The Little Rock blowout is one of several recent Spectra incidents Dan Christensen finds today in FloridaBulldog.org, Pipeline company with tie to Gov. Scott, and state backing, has history of accidents,

Spectra Energy, the company that state environmental regulators say should be allowed to construct a 267-mile-long natural gas pipeline in North Florida, has a checkered history of accidents and violations of federal safety rules in the U.S. and Canada dating back decades….

Spectra Energy’s investors have included Gov. Rick Scott. On last year’s financial disclosure form, Scott reported owning a $108,00[0] stake in Spectra and its affiliate, DCP Midstream Partners. His latest disclosure form, filed in June, no longer details Scott’s securities holdings because he put those assets into a blind trust.

Please note: just because those investments are no longer itemized separately on a state financial disclosure form does not mean the Florida Governor doesn’t still own them. It does mean it’s harder for anyone to find out what he owns.

Federal and state election records show that FP&L, Duke Energy and their affiliates together have contributed $1.4 million to Let’s Get to Work, the political committee branded with Scott’s campaign slogan. They also gave a total of $5.8 million to the Republican Governors Association in 2013-14, which in turn contributed $18.3 million to Let’s Get to Work last year.

Spectra didn’t respond to inquiries about its history of U.S. incidents, including:

From 2006 to date, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration recorded 25 incidents that caused more than $12 million in property damage along Spectra’s main line — the 9,000-mile Texas Eastern Transmission that connects Texas and the Gulf Coast with big urban markets in the Northeast. The causes ranged from equipment failure and incorrect operations to pipe corrosion.

Christensen notes the WWALS petition to FL DEP, and asks:

Was Spectra’s safety record considered in DEP’s decision?

“The department assesses a permit application based on Florida statutes and rules to ensure that all aspects of the proposed operation follow Florida law and are protective of the environment and human health and safety,” DEP spokeswoman Lori Elliott said in a Wednesday statement.

Maybe so, but try searching in FL-DEP’s notice of intent to issue permit, and please let us know if you find any mention of safety.

Spectra’s most recent pipeline accident was the dramatic rupture of an auxiliary pipe along its Texas Eastern Pipeline in Little Rock, Ark. on May 31. The buried line, which crossed the Arkansas River near the Clinton Presidential Center, was not in use at the time, but contained four million cubic feet of natural gas that exploded with such force that churning water boiled up high into the air across the span of the river. Eyewitness Tony Cassady, who lives nearby, said the gushing waters had settled back somewhat by the time he managed to snap the photo above.

While no one was injured, the blow out resulted in more than $1 million in damages, according to federal records. The cause has not been determined, but an incident report filed by Spectra in June noted that high rains had caused flooding that had washed away soil that once covered the pipeline on the river’s bank.

And apparently Spectra didn’t notice the pipeline was uncovered. Wouldn’t that be negligence?

Now imagine the Sabal Trail pipeline exposed to our famously acid soil and tannin river water, corroding any fine scratches or cracks. And it’s not just blowouts; the pipeline or drilling for it could also cause sinkholes like the one that opened up in Lowndes County, Georgia last week that threatens to eat a road.

The Arkansas River pipeline blowout was even worse than Christensen wrote. Jessica Seaman, ArkansasOnline, 8 June 2015, Rupture dislodged 400-foot section of pipeline, Spectra says,

When Spectra Energy’s pipeline burst in the Arkansas River on May 31, a 400-foot section of pipe broke off from the line and was pushed downstream, the company said.

Sonar scans conducted by Spectra Energy last week show a section of the pipeline on the north side of the river, about 100 feet from the line’s original crossing, said spokesman Phil West….

The company said it does not know what caused the 63-year-old pipeline to fail.

Pipeline accident reports by pipeline operators almost always say the cause was unknown. And saying that would seem to indicate Spectra didn’t know what was going on with its own pipeline. Why should we trust such a company to drill under the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers?

There was also direct property damage, pictured above, from Benjamin Hardy, Arkansas blog, 2 Jun 2015, Natural gas pipeline ruptures east of I-30 bridge, closing two miles of Arkansas River,

THE CHRIS M: Towboat damaged by pipeline in photo from several years ago.

And this was only a 24-inch pipeline, with only 44% the area of the Sabal Trail pipeline Spectra proposes to gouge under our rivers.

Back to the Christensen story, he also noted a new break in Canada:

Another vivid example of the power of out-of-control natural gas occurred June 28, 2012 at the Nig Creek pipeline in British Columbia, operated by Spectra’s wholly owned subsidiary Westcoast Energy. The 16-inch pipeline, which had been shut down that night, was filled with pressurized “sour gas” that exploded when the line ruptured, causing a fire and creating a large crater in a remote forest area in British Columbia. Sour gas contains significant amounts of hydrogen sulfide and is highly toxic.

No one was injured in the blast — the nearest town, population 58, was 25 miles away. The cause was later determined to be a crack in a pipe.

That was actually the second Spectra BC incident in one week. CBC News, 29 June 2012, Second B.C. pipeline burst this week,

This is the second Spectra Energy pipeline incident in northern B.C. this week to be investigated by the Transportation Safety Board.

Two workers were injured Saturday after a natural gas leak resulted in a flash fire at another pipeline compressor station, approximately 160 kilometres northwest of Fort St. John.

One of the injured workers was released from care in Fort St. John, while the other was transferred to Vancouver General Hospital.

A TSB investigator has been dispatched to both sites, the agency said.

That earlier incident was at a compressor station. Spectra proposes to build a compressor station in Suwannee County, FL, and another in Albany, GA. See also Spectra’s Searsmont, Maine compressor station blowout.

Back to Christensen:

So far in 2015, Canada’s National Energy Board has fined Spectra Energy three times for a total of $122,300 — including $88,000 imposed in January after inspectors found violations with “the potential to significantly impact worker safety and infrastructure” at Spectra’s Dawson Creek Gas Plant, also in British Columbia.

Just last month, the board also ordered Spectra to fix “management system failures” at its Westcoast Energy gas processing plants and facilities in western Canada after inspectors uncovered 27 safety issues between April 1, 2014 and June 26, 2015.

“The board expects Westcoast to address safety concerns on a systemic basis,” says the July 14 safety order. “Based on recent violations described below, the board is not confident safety concerns are being addressed in this manner.”

Christensen continues about Spectra’s continent-wide system of pipelines and its litany of incidents, including the system map below:

And it’s not just WWALS’ Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers Sabal Trail proposes to risk with its shoddy safety record. Southwards it’s also the Santa Fe River and the Withlacoochee south River, between the Green Swamp and the Gulf of Mexico.

Northwards it’s also the Ocholockonee, Flint, and Chattahochee Rivers in Georgia, and still more in Alabama.

You can help WWALS stop the Sabal Trail pipeline. Here are some things you can do.

And you can come see where Sabal Trail proposes to cross the Suwannee River this Saturday on the August WWALS outing.


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