KMI playing same tricks for Palmetto as Sabal Trail did

This meeting format sounds like the Open Houses Sabal Trail held to snow and bully landowners. And notice it’s always “80 percent survey approval”, yet we never get to see any list of landowners? Plus pipeline companies are always working to improve their safety record, except it never seems to improve. See below for some recent highlights of KMI’s long lack of safety record.

T.J. Lundeen, North Augusta Star, 21 May 2015, Palmetto Pipeline of confusion: Session in North Augusta leaves many baffled,

NORTH AUGUSTA — Many Aiken County residents left Thursday’s Palmetto Pipeline session with more questions than answers.

An event that many believed would offer a chance to learn and ask questions about the proposed 360-mile gas pipeline was, rather, mostly a cluster of roughly 150 residents looking at maps on tables while Kinder Morgan representatives attempted to explain the new routes that are planned to go through the land of many of the attendees.

Before the session began, Tonya Bonitatibus of the Savannah Riverkeeper said, “We discovered that Kinder Morgan is not going to take public comment, and we decided to set up our own area to collect public comments to share with our legislature. … South Carolinians do want a voice, and they need to provide one to them. I think a lot of people are upset. We’ve worked with a lot of landowners who have been working on their comments (to Kinder Morgan) for a while. To find out that they’re not being provided for in the same way that Georgia was is going to be a slap in the face.”

Yay, Savannah Riverkeeper!

“This is my third public meeting, and I’ve seen nothing like this by Kinder Morgan in Georgia,” said Sam Booher of Augusta. “In the other meetings, everyone had a seat, and anyone could get up to speak and ask any question they want, and Kinder Morgan would answer that question. The people here can’t ask questions; this format doesn’t allow for that.”

That’s because the Open House format isn’t designed for the public to find out what’s going on: it’s for pipeline companies to propaganize landowners. And so pipeline companies can make claims like this one in KMI’s PR after the GDOT permit denial:

“We appreciate the feedback we have heard to date on the project, as we heard numerous comments and questions. We will continue efforts to foster an open dialogue with communities and landowners along the proposed pipeline rights-of-way and share information about the project to address concerns….”

The SC news story says:

“We have over 80 percent survey approval in South Carolina,” he [KMI VP of Public Affairs Allen Fore] said.

In that PR, KMI said:

…over 80 percent of the landowners potentially impacted by the Palmetto pipeline have already agreed to have their property surveyed.

So is that 80% in GA, in SC, in all three of SC, GA, FL? Or is that number just made up?

Show us the list, KMI!

Even better, show us the list of all landowners you want to plunk your destructive invading pipeline on top of, so opponents can talk to them as easily as you do.

Ditto, Sabal Trail, which has refused to do so even in response to a FOIA request. And remember: it’s the pipeline companies that ask FERC not to reveal the landowner lists; not the other way around.

“We’re talking about burying a pipeline next to a power line or something like that,” he said. “We’re talking about putting a buried pipeline next to it and you’ll never see it again.”

Oh, really? A ditch puller dug up a KMI pipeline a few miles from my house. The neighbors saw a plume of dust go up 300 feet high. They all got evacuated down the road. A Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy came to evacuate me as I was taking these pictures of that Southern Natural Gas (a KMI company) pipeline. You can’t see the methane rocketing out of the ground, but you could sure hear it. Here’s the FERC filing about that I made in a Sabal Trail docket.

And what about this, in that same SC news article?

While trying to expand to additional markets, Kinder Morgan is also currently dealing with a spill in Belton, South Carolina. More than 300,000 gallons — or 8,000 barrels — of gasoline have leaked from that pipeline following structure issues in December. Previous news reports have stated it took months for the leak to be discovered or reported.

Which is so often the case with pipeline companies and their leaks that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) told the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Agency (PHMSA) in January 2015 a long list of things it had to fix about pipeline monitoring and safety. Why? Unlike PHMSA, NTSB does do real and timely reports about pipeline incidents if they happen next to highways, and after the 2009 Palm City, Florida flying pipeline that almost hit a high school, the 2010 San Bruno, California PG&E Pipeline Rupture and Fire, and the 2012 Sissonville, West Virginia I-75 house destruction, NTSB had had enough. Those January NTSB instructions say:

These three accidents resulted in 8 fatalities, over 50 injuries, and 41 homes destroyed with many more damaged.

The NTSB document also notes only one item PHMSA had actually fixed after previous instructions from NTSB.

The SC news story continues:

While Fore said there are safety precautions in place to catch such spills, Kinder Morgan is working on plans to better monitor and catch spills.

What’s this, then, KMI, for one of your subsidiary companies? EL PASO NATURAL GAS CO, Case CPF 520131012 including this PHMSA Final Order of 3 April 2015,

Enclosed please find the Final Order issued in the above-referenced case. It makes a finding of violation, assesses a reduced civil penalty of $27,500, and specifies corrective action that must be completed….

The Notice alleged that Respondent violated § 192.707(a) by failing to have line markers over the L2000 pipeline wherever necessary to identify the location of the line to reduce the possibility of damage or interference. The Notice alleged that the pipeline had been struck and damaged by a third-party excavator on April 23, 2013. At the time of the event, the Notice alleged, there were no line markers in the area identifying the location of Respondent’s pipeline. The Notice alleged that the closest marker was between 0.25 and 0.50 miles away from the excavation site. The Notice also stated that EPNG had previously been issued a warning for the same conduct after it had allegedly failed to place adequate line markers on its 2103 pipeline in South Tucson, Arizona.

EPNG contested the alleged violation and offered additional information. Respondent stated that the excavator who damaged the pipeline was working for the owner of an adjacent farm in a rural agricultural area. Without providing advance notice of the excavation through a one-call notification system, the excavator operated a trackhoe in a ditch along a private dirt road and struck Respondent’s pipeline. The strike caused several gouges and a pin hole leak that began slowly releasing gas. EPNG responded to the event by closing valves on both sides of the damage, initiating a controlled blowdown, and repairing the pipe.

Got that? If KMI doesn’t mark its pipeline and you the landowner or your employee accidentally hits it, KMI may blame that on you and try to weasel out of even a small fine by famously lax PHMSA.

Oh, and KMI can’t even keep its testimony straight:

4 There were also some inconsistencies between the Operations Specialist’s affidavit and his testimony at the hearing, specifically with regard to when the markers were found and when they were disposed of. The Operations Specialist testified that he had taken pictures of the markers, but the pictures were subsequently lost. The agency Inspector denied ever seeing any markers discovered while he was there.

What about this PHMSA Final Order to Kinder Morgan CO2 Company, LP, 9 October 2012,

Item 1… The Notice alleged that KMCO2 violated 49 C.F.R. § 195.571 by failing to ensure that all buried piping at its Blanco Station had adequate cathodic protection (CP), as provided by NACE SP 0169 (version 2007). Specifically, the Notice alleged that during PHMSA’s inspection of the Blanco Station, KMCO2 personnel conducted an interrupted CP survey that showed insufficient CP on the station bypass piping. PHMSA staff subsequently learned that the station piping was electrically isolated from the mainline with buried isolation unions and that during a 2008 construction project the rectifier lead cable to the station piping had been cut. The Notice further alleged that when PHMSA staff observed the configuration of the electrical connections at a rectifier junction box, it was apparent that the station bypass piping was electrically disconnected. PHMSA asserted that the bypass piping had inadequate CP and that the only current making it to the station bypass piping was stray cathodic current.

Item 2… The Notice alleged that KMCO2 violated 49 C.F.R. § 195.577(a) by failing, in two specific instances, to adequately identify, test for, and minimize the detrimental effects of interference currents on its pipeline. First, the Notice alleged that KMCO2 failed to test for stray currents on the pipeline segment between Poquita Station and Allred Station, along which parallel high-voltage electrical transmission lines exposed the pipeline to stray alternating current (AC) interference. Second, the Notice alleged that KMCO2 failed to identify, test for, and minimize detrimental effects of stray AC currents after detecting high AC readings at 109 locations on the Blanco Station to Cortez Station segment.

In the first instance, the Notice alleged that during the inspection of Respondent—s Cortez system, PHMSA identified locations where stray currents could cause detrimental effects on the pipeline. Upon request, KMCO2 produced segment surveys of the entire Cortez CO2 pipeline system, including tests for AC interference. PHMSA staff noted that KMCO2 could not produce any AC reads taken for the pipeline segment between Poquita Station and Allred Station. During the inspection, KMCO2 staff confirmed that high-voltage electrical transmission lines ran parallel to the right-of-way in this segment and that AC reads had not been taken during the last Close Interval Survey (CIS) performed on this segment in 2007 because, according to Respondent, the company—s CP technicians did not have the correct software to allow them to record AC readings.3

Think about that when you hear KMI say they want to run their Palmetto Pipeline parallel to existing pipelines and power lines.

KMI tried to weasel out of that 2012 PHMSA Final Order by arguing there was no power line there in 2007, and then that it had “a sound basis for disregarding the high-voltage reads”. Well, they’re a pipeline company, so they can disregard!

According to NH Pipeline Awareness, which cites its sources:

In 2009, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) cited Kinder Morgan for violating safety standards regarding the distance between a natural gas pipeline and a “high consequence area” such as a school or hospital; the pipeline was too close for safe operation in case of a leak.

In 2011, PHMSA cited Kinder Morgan for these safety violations:

  • failing to maintain update maps showing pipeline locations,
  • failing to test pipeline safety devices,
  • failing to maintain proper firefighting equipment,
  • failing to inspect its pipelines as required, and
  • failing to adequately monitor pipes’ corrosion levels.[23]

In 2013, the headline “Wall Street Worries About Kinder Morgan’s Safety Record: BC pipeline operator slashes and defers maintenance spending” was a concern to anyone who lived or worked near a Kinder Morgan pipeline.

The Wall Street Journal asked, “Is Kinder Morgan Scrimping on its Pipelines?” after an investment analyst charged the company with starving its pipelines of routine maintenance spending in order to return more cash to investors. Deferred maintenance may account for the high number of Kinder Morgan pipeline accidents in the last decade.

There’s much more in that NH Pipeline Awareness writeup, and in PHMSA’s archives. And if PHMSA is citing KMI subsidiaries frequently, you can be confident there are lots more problems PHMSA never noticed that may still leak or explode.

A 2013 report from Hedgeye Risk Management may be relevant:

“We believe that Kinder Morgan’s high-level business strategy is to starve its pipelines and related infrastructure of routine maintenance spending in order to maximize distributable cash flow.”

Is that the kind of strategy you want gouging a pipeline past your schools, under your rivers, and through your lands?


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