The Three Stooges Greatest Sabal Fails at Dunnellon

To see Sabal Fail in inaction at Dunnellon, jump to The Dunnellon odorant leaks, where the pipeline stooges wrapped it in towels, sprayed a deodorant, and waited until morning. Really, according to the incident report from Marion County Fire Rescue. It doesn’t get better in this summary: none of the state or federal permitting or safety agencies did anything, leaving Marion County to deal with the situation unassisted.

The Three Stooges: A Plumbing We Will Go

If you want to know some background, see also Setting the Stage The Stooges Gradually Tear the Curtain Open, and An earlier leak.

Don’t forget What you can do to help stop Sabal Trail and reform FERC. Including come on down to Live Oak, FL, 6:30 PM Thursday September 7, 2017 and help Suwannee and Flint Riverkeepers say “Not so Fast, Sabal Trail!” about Sierra Club’s recent Great Major Victory against Sabal Trail in DC District Court.

Setting the Stage

We (many of us) tried to stop them.

The Stooges Gradually Tear the Curtain Open

When exactly did Sabal Trail start pumping gas? Depends on who you listen to, how much gas constitutes “started”, and who had to be notified.

The Dunnellon odorant leaks

The Withlacoochee (south) River flows directly into the Gulf and is not in WWALS territory, nonetheless we have members in Marion and Citrus Counties, Florida, who requested we look into the situation.

  • 2017-07-16, 2017-07-17: The Three Stooges do Plumbing
    First multi-day odorant leak at site of Sabal Trail’s planned Dunnellon Compressor Station.

    Sabal Trail 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. We only found out these details more than a week later through open records requests to Marion County Fire Rescue.

    A local resident coins the name “Sabal Fail”.

  • 2017-07-27: Oh, a wise guy, eh?
    FERC filing of 19 Questions from WWALS about Leak at Sabal Trail Dunnellon Compressor Station Site

    Following up member reports of a very strong smell of natural gas on Florida 200 next to the site of Sabal Trail’s planned Dunnellon Compressor Station, which apparently was leaking, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman and several WWALS members took pictures of the site and related locations from the ground and from the air. Today Suwannee Riverkeeper sent nineteen questions to the agencies that permitted the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline, all of whom assured us that pipeline would be safe, even though it appears it developed a leak less than a week after saying it had gone into service. These questions range from what did Sabal Trail report to the agencies to who asked for the smell to be put into the gas to what were the local counties and cities or the public told?

  • 2017-07-28: “Certainly not! I was in the house!”
    FERC filing of Sabal Trail’s response to WWALS, only admitting the first day’s leak, saying nothing about towels or deodorant or not getting there until after Marion County Fire Rescue or not having anybody available to fix it until the next day.
  • 2017-07-31: State, local, and PHMSA responses.
    Sabal Trail did not notify any of FERC, PHMSA, FDEP, the City of Dunnellon, or Marion County, and none of the state or federal agencies have given any indication of having done anything about this leak (FERC never answered directly), and USACE never answerd at all), leaving local emergency responders to deal with it unassisted, even though Marion County, like many other counties and cities in Florida and Georgia, objected to the pipeline in the first place.
  • 2017-08-05, 2017-08-06: Stooges Stink Again
    Second multi-day odorant leak. Marion County Fire Rescue reports show they weren’t notified, even though Sabal Trail started work the day before, and Sabal Trail claimed there were “NO HEALTH OR SAFEY CONCERNS”. Nevermind it was citizens smelling the leak miles away who called it into 911 for Marion County.
  • 2017-08-11: Were those men in that chicken coop?
    FERC filing, WWALS to OSHA: Chronic Leaks at Sabal Trail Dunnellon Compressor Station Site, Marion County, Florida

    Includes quotation from OSHA’s description of Mercaptan as a very hazardous substance, and quotes from evidence that OSHA does have jurisdiction over safety of pipeline contractors and of some pipeline facilities. OSHA took several days to call back, had never heard of Sabal Trail, and had a very hard time understanding I wasn’t complaining about Marion County Fire Rescue, rather about Sabal Trail’s contractors risking their own safety and that of local emergency responders and the public. No further response since from OSHA.

  • 2017-08-11: Houston, you have a problem!
    WCJB TV: Dunnellon Compressor Station Gas Leak 2017-08-11

    With quotes by WWALS member and local resident Janet Barrow, in which local resident Alisha Mears summed up the significance:
    “If we can’t trust their tanks that are standing outside the ground not to leak, how can we trust the pipeline in the ground not to leak.”

  • 2017-08-15: Nyuk nyuk nyuk!
    Sabal Trail in a FERC filing spelled out that they are not required to notify anybody about their chronic leaks of hazardous odorant chemicals.

    They also said

    “No natural gas leak occurred at any time related to the reports of a smell from the vicinity of Sabal Trail’s Dunnellon Compressor Station site.”

    Which does not say there was no methane leak at some other time or some other place nor that Sabal Trail is required to notify anybody about that, either.

  • 2017-08-17: Pinocchio does PR for the Stooges
    Sabal Trail in the Miami New Times claims the leaks of Mercaptan that OHSA says is a hazardous subtance and that were smelled strongly miles away were “no danger to the public”.

    PHMSA doesn’t even have Sabal Trail in its map viewer and didn’t list those leaks as incidents.

    Sabal Trail claims:

    “Sabal Trail is actively working to permanently resolve this issue as soon as possible, and we will continue to coordinate these activities with the county’s first responders.”

    Yet Sabal Trail did not even tell Marion County Fire Rescue about work going on the day before the second multi-day Mercaptan leak.

Summary of the Dunnellon Compressor Station site Mercaptan leaks:

Sabal Trail did not detect its own odorant leaks, did not notify anybody when it knew about them and is not required to, state and federal agencies were not notified and have done nothing, leaving local emergency responders to deal with this recurring public health hazard, which is also hazardous to local wildlife and wetlands. We don’t even know for sure that what leaked was Mercaptan or only Mercaptan. FERC doesn’t even know that.

Why should we trust a pipeline company that can’t even handle odorant to handle a 36-inch high-pressure fracked methane pipeline?

An earlier leak

This was not Sabal Trail’s first leak. Back in October 2015, flying over the Withlacoochee River in Georgia, I saw a yellow thing in the river, between Valdosta and Quitman. It took weeks for Sabal Trail to admit, verified by evidence from GA-EPD, that the yellow thing was a boom or turbidity curtain to catch drilling mud Sabal Trail had blown up from its pilot hole under the river. Not even its 4-foot main reamed hole for the 36-inch pipe. Before that, its small pilot hole from Lowndes County to Brooks County to direct the main hole: that’s what blew out. In this frac-out, as Sabal Trail and geologists call it, the fragile limestone holding the river and our drinking water in the Floridan Aquifer fractured and bentonite drilling mud leaked up into the river. The bentonite itself can damage fish in the river, and we don’t know what else might have been with it, since FERC protects that information as Sabal Trail trade secret.

Sabal Trail also caused a sinkhole at the drill site in Lowndes County. All this happened one year after Sabal Trail and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) assured us in WWALS vs. Sabal Trail & FDEP that there was no danger to the Outstanding Florida Water, the Suwannee River, because Sabal Trail was drilling from upland to upland under the river. Yet what our geologist expert witness warned against did happen, in the same geology under the Suwannee’s tributary the Withlacoochee River in Georgia.

Sabal Trail also caused multiple sinkholes at their Suwannee River drill site in Suwannee County, Florida, at the Santa Fe River, and in at least two public roads in Florida. Even after they finished construction, they still hadn’t fixed five sinkholes at the Flint River in Dougherty County near Albany, Georgia.

Is this a company we want operating a pipeline?

What you can do to help stop Sabal Trail and reform FERC

Follow this link.

And come on down to Live Oak, FL, 6:30 PM Thursday September 7, 2017 and help Suwannee and Flint Riverkeepers say “Not so Fast, Sabal Trail!” about Sierra Club’s recent Great Major Victory against Sabal Trail in DC District Court.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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