There have been major developments in Duke's pipeline project.
September 11th Adjudicatory Hearing Canceled
On Wednesday August 25th, Duke filed a motion with the Ohio Power Siting Board to indefinitely postpone the adjudicatory hearing for their Central Corridor Pipeline Extension Project. Intervenors, including NOPE did not oppose the motion to delay all related adjudicatory proceedings and the motion was granted.
September 11th hearing in Columbus has been canceled.
Duke says they recently learned of an environmental remediation project located in Reading, along the Green Route, that requires further consideration.
At issue appears to be the proximity of the Green Route to EPA Superfund cleanup site known as Pristine, Inc. It seems as if Duke could not have possibly made a worse routing decision if they tried:
The high pressure transmission lines is within 150 feet of a hazardous waste containment site.
Duke plans to use horizontal directional drilling to construct part of the pipeline under the Mill Creek. The Mill Creek crossing is also in very close proximity to this hazardous waste site.
Pristine Inc Superfund Site adjacent to Duke's Green Line
Potential issues with digging, drilling and heavy duty construction around the Pristine site could include the inadvertent release of toxic hazardous waste into the Mill Creek or negatively impacting the underground aquifer system.
Why is this an issue NOW? It appears to us that neither Duke, nor the Staff at the OPSB performed due diligence in their evaluation of the pipeline routes.
Duke did not mention the Pristine site in their application. The OPSB Staff Report did not mention the site either.
It is quite shocking that this issue is coming up 1 1/2 years into the application process, given potential environmental impact" is one of the decision criteria used by OPSB. This raises a concern about what else Duke failed to consider in their pipeline routing plans and what issues OPSB failed to identify in their initial review of Duke's application.
Imagine designing a high pressure transmission line route without asking, "Is there anything we should try to avoid?"
Here is are some things we would recommend: hazardous waste dumps, densely populated areas, schools, nursing homes, places of worship, places where lots of people congregate. Possibly places where there are highly explosive materials like gas stations or chemical manufacturing companies? However, none of these are part of Duke's routing model.
Duke might say it is too much work or too hard to identify all of these upfront. However, there are many GIS databases that already contain most of this information. If Safety is a #1 priority, leveraging existing tools upfront seems like a responsible approach.
What are Duke's Plans? We don't know. But we do not believe this is by any means over.
It seems important that Duke has chosen to postpone the adjudicatory process indefinitely (rather than for a few months). This suggests Duke might have some significant work to do.
NOPE has no specific information on Duke's plans. However, here are some possibilities we have considered:
Duke could re-work the Green Route to avoid the hazardous waste site. Duke has made numerous route adjustments throughout the application process, so this approach would not be out of line with what they have done in the past.
Duke could be evaluating liability or negotiating financial arrangements related to the Pristine site, prior to proceeding.
Duke could push for a return to the Orange Route. Duke initially stated that this was their preferred route.
Duke could reintroduce the Pink Route as one of the options. This would involve submitting a revised application to the OPSB. It would take some time for Duke to pull together the same information it has regarding the Orange and Green lines.
Duke could go back to the drawing board.
Duke could cancel the project.
Duke could leverage other planned pipeline upgrades to accomplish the same objectives.
Given the number of possible outcomes, it extremely important that everyone across all of our communities continue to stay informed and engaged.
What is happening with Intervention?
NOPE remains committed to insuring that Duke's new natural gas infrastructure is needed, responsible and in the best interest of our communities. We are continuing our research and legal preparation. As new information becomes available, we will determine the best way to proceed.
We have received personal commitments from both the City of Cincinnati (PG Sittenfeld) and Hamilton County (Todd Portune) that they are "all in" and will continue to protect and support our communities with the vast resources available to them. We believe the other municipal intervenors remain committed, as well, and will provide an update after our next meeting.
ABOUT Pristine, Inc.
Originally a manufacturing plant for sulfuric acid, in 1974 Pristine, Inc became a hazardous liquid waste disposal facility and obtained a permit in 1977 to also incinerate hazardous waste. The EPA closed the site in 1981, but not before ground water and drinking water had been contaminated. At the time of closure, over 10,000 drums and several hundred thousand gallons of bulk liquids and sludges containing acids, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-VOCs, and cyanide were staged on-site.
Pristine was identified as a Superfund Cleanup Site in .The top layer of hazardous waste was removed and the site has been capped. EPA states that cleanup is on-going. It is likely that hazardous materials have leached into the porous aquifers below the site.