The Three Stooges Do Pipeline: Sabal Trail at Dunnellon 2017-07-16

Sabal Fail wrapped it in towels, sprayed a deodorant, and waited until morning.

“This is a new system and they are still learning,” said the Sabal Trail representative from Houston to Marion County Fire and Rescue, who were called by a local citizen to respond to a strong odor of natural gas at the site of the Dunnellon Compressor Station.

“Houston, we have a problem,” a Marion County resident remarked.

“Will be getting someone to respond,” Sabal Trail told Marion County 22 minutes after the call. When the county arrived (half an hour after the 911 call, mostly due to road distance), Sabal Trail personnel didn’t have the situation under control and hadn’t even communicated with Houston yet.

Marion County’s Narrative says:

Sabal Trail Pipeline representative, Dave, … was able to contact a technician who walked him through shutting down the injector. He advised that he has the technician responding in the morning to fix the leak. He advised that he wrapped the area with towels and sprayed a deodorant but more than likely will continue to leak until line is fixed.

They had to wait until next morning for another of the Three Stooges to arrive. Meanwhile, were those Three Stooges towels, and did they run down to the local Walmart and get them?

“Sabal Fail Pipeline” is its new name by a Citrus County resident.

Is the pipeline operational or not? Can you tell from what Sabal Trail told the county when Fire and Rescue arrived?

07/16/2017 19:36:32 JW Response [17] DC4 ADV TECH SAYS HE HAS OTHER TECHS EN ROUTE

According to the Incident Detail Report, it took Marion County Fire Rescue 4 minutes and 49 seconds to assign a vehicle, and 23 seconds for it to be on the road. Then it took 24 minutes and 50 minutes to get there. The Three Stooges arrived later. And wrapped it in towels.

We know this much because Marion County responded to an open records request, according to Florida state law. But Sabal Trail is a private company, with no requirement to respond to such things. The agency that gave Sabal Trail federal eminent domain, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), can’t be bothered to make Sabal Trail respond in any detail, as we know from the Sabal Trail non-response that didn’t happen to mention what we already heard from Marion County Fire Rescue, that they were dispatched again Monday because the leak was not fixed.

Below are links to the source documents (Narrative and Incident Report) and some things you can do.


Here is the text narrative from Dunnellon Fire Rescue; see also PDF for the rest of the document.


Units, E31, E16, 8916, HM16, and D4, responded IPA reference odor of gas “outside” in area of Spruce Creek Preserve. E31 arrived in area and advised of a transfer station near the county line D4 en root obtained a contact number for the Sabal Trail Pipeline through dispatchr D4 was able to make contact with a representative company in Houston Texas. Per D4, the representative had advised that “this was a new system and they are still learning”. The representative was able to Contact a local contact to respond to the area.

$1116, E16 and HMlG arrived on scene of a transmission system that was located approx. 300 yards west of Hwy 200 in an unpopulated area. E31 was located at a safe distance. Strong odor of gas noted throughout the area. Two large tangs of unknown size were noted in a gated area next to a 36″ gas pipeline. Hazmat team members entered area using a Combustible Gas indicator that detects natural gas and a 4 gas monitor detecting 02, LEL, CO, and H25. Approaching area, no readings on gas monitors noted until approx. 25′ from fence line, CGI readings of less than 100 ppm were noted. No readings on the 4 gas monitor were noted. At fence line, crews circled fence line and obtained a reading on 150 ppm This reading is still within a safe environment.

Sabal Trail Pipeline representative, Dave, arrived on scene. Representative also had a CGI and was receiving low level readings. Representative entered fence area and made way around the two tanks. He advised that those tanks were “Methyl Herceptin” tanks. Mercaptan is what is injected into natural gas to give it an odor to detect a leak. We were reassured that the is no natural gas in the tanks. The representative opened a control panel to find a leak had occurred inside the panel. Upon opening the panel, our GCI readings increased to 1800 ppm. The reason for the readings is due to the CGI monitor being calibrated to Methane which also has mercaptan in it. Crews backed away to a safer distance. The representative was able to contact a technician who walked him through shutting down the injector. He advised that he has the technician responding in the morning to fix the leak. He advised that he wrapped the area with towels and sprayed a deodorant but more than likely will continue to leak until line is fixed. Monitor readings had fallen back to a low ppm. The representative and Hazmat 16 Lieutenant, Cassidy, exchanged phone numbers and were given permission to Contact him when we have response to the pipeline. Crews were no longer needed and completed.

Narrative 071617 (3 of 3)
The “towels” are in the last paragraph on this page 3 of Marion County Fire Rescue’s Sabal Trail Pipeline Narrative.

Incident Report

Marion County redacted the caller’s identity from the 911 call, but not from the Incident Report. I’ve redacted that identity from the first page text below. For the other eight pages, see PDF on the WWALS website.

Incident Detail Report

Incident Status Closed
Incident Number 2017-047633
Incident Date 07/16/2017 19:07:44

Incident Information

Incident Type: Gas Leak – IFA Alarm Level:1
Priority: Immediate Fire Assist Problem: Y Gas Leak / Outside Odor
Determinant: Agency: Marion County Fire Rescue
Base Response #: 2017-0080398 Jurisdiction: MCFR
Confirmation #: 07162017-0036450 Division: UNINCORPORATED SOUTH FIRE
Taken By: Frazier, Ashley J Battalion: DISTRICT 4
Response Area: MCFD ZONE 31 Response Plan: Gas Leak IFA
Disposition: Command Ch:
Cancel Reason: Primary TAC: Fire Scene 2
Incident Status: Closed Alternate TAC:
Certification: Engine MCFR Delay Reason:
Longitude: 82313840 Latitude: 29023747
MGRS: 17RLN7205911323 UTM: 17R 372059 3211323

Incident Location

Location Name: Spruce Creek Preserve County: MARION
Address: Sw Hwy 200 & Sw 136th Pl Location Type: Subdivision
Apartment: Cross Street:
Tow Provider Area:
Building: Map Reference: pg 210/1C
City, State, Zip: DUNNELLON, FL 34432

Call Receipt

Caller Name: [redacted by WWALS] Call Back Phone: [redacted by WWALS]
Method Received: 7 Digit Emergency Caller Location:
Caller Type: Citizen Caller Apt/Bldg: /
Caller Address: Caller County:
Caller City, State, Zip: ,
Report Generated: 07/31/2017 14:20:16

Source Documents from Marion County

The four source documents received from Marion County Fire Rescue in response to an open records request by a local citizen are these:

These documents are all for Sunday July 16, 2017. As we already learned from Marion Fire Rescue, they got called again the next day because it still stunk. I’ve seen individuals reporting smelling it four days later. Apparently the towels and deodorant didn’t work.


Sabal Trail is a private LLC owned by private companies and managed by a private LLC, so there’s no way to do open records requests with them. Why would we believe what they said anyway, since they were distributing misinformation right up to and after they went in service?

As we saw already, the federal (FERC, USACE, PHMSA) and state (FDEP) agencies responsible for permitting or safety of the Sabal Trail pipeline either made no response (FERC and USACE) or said they weren’t notified and know nothing (PHMSA and FDEP).

As we saw in Berrien County, Georgia in 2014, another pipeline company was not much faster, although they seemed significantly more competent.

Since the permitting agencies did not do their jobs, rubberstamping the Sabal Fail fracked methane boondoggle instead, we need to keep after them and also help the local emergency responders get up to speed on the problem.

I got this very nice letter from the Marion County Sheriff’s Department:

From: Bowlin, James <>
To: Wwals Watershed Coalition <>
Date: Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 5:21 PM
Subject: RE: WWALS Questions about Leak at Sabal Trail Dunnellon Compressor Station Site

Wwals Watershed Coalition,

My name is Preston Bowlin the new Emergency Management Director for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. I apologize for not getting back with you sooner due to being out of the office for training. In regards to the information you provided question #2 Emergency Management was not notified of this apparent gas leak. I will make contact with both Sabal Trail personnel and Marion County Fire Rescue to get briefed up on this situation. Thank you for your concerns and updating me on this issue.

Best Regards,

J. Preston Bowlin
Emergency Management Director
Marion County Sheriff’s Office
Office 352-369-8185

What You Can Do

This is a learning opportunity for all of us. Let’s help local emergency responders learn what to do.

The Incident Report filename refers to “Sabal Palm Pipeline”. The narrative document indicates Fire and Rescue took several minutes trying to find the compressor station site. While I reiterate that the local emergency responders are not the problem here, it would still be good if they would learn the name of the problem pipeline and where to find it. An emergency plan would also be good.

And let’s educate state and national elected and appointed officials on the need to stop permitting these 500-mile long IEDs and get on with solar power now. Here are things you can do to help.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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