Even Spectra workers sometimes develop a conscience. These whistleblowers are not the first, and thirty years of Spectra’s sordid safety record agrees with them. Tonight you can help stop Spectra from drilling under the Suwannee River in Florida, and that will help stop Spectra in Burrillville, Rhode Island.
Steve Ahlquist, RI Future.org, 30 November 2015, Former inspectors allege safety issues with Spectra pipeline project,
Two safety inspectors who worked on Spectra Energy’s proposed methane gas pipeline that will cut through Burrillville, RI, say the company cut corners when it came to project, worker and environmental safety.
“Right now, what they’re hoping to do, is they’re hoping to slam all this through, and then at the end ask for forgiveness,” said one of the former inspectors. “Oops, sorry about that, I didn’t know, let me write you a check. Because once this thing’s turning meter, they’re going to be making millions of dollars a day. It doesn’t matter what your problems are…”
The other added, “We were told to shut the fuck up or quit.”
Both men, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, were subcontracted by Spectra and both were terminated from the project this summer. I was introduced to them through FANG (Fighting Against Natural Gas), an environmental group that opposes the project, and have spent time talking with both men by phone as well as reviewing audio interviews and emails provided by FANG.
“Like every other company, Spectra gives a tremendous presentation about their commitment to safety, but their actions lack any kind of resolve. No one ever says, ‘Safety’s #2 here,’” said the first inspector. “At every turn when I made a safety suggestion, I was met with monumental resistance from the company on every level.”
There’s lots more in that article, including the graph below.
As US rushes to build gas lines, failure rate of new pipes has spiked, by Sarah Smith, SNL, 9 September 2015.
The RI Future.org story goes on with specific anecdotes of overturned equipment, burns, cuts, broken legs, etc. If that’s happening to pipeline company workers (and contractors), how much do you think pipeline companies care about we who live where they want to put their 500-mile-long IED?
Here’s an interesting point:
In addition to a lax attitude towards worker safety, Inspector One also alleges some environmental trespasses.
“This is a FERC project, okay? The way we treat the environment is hypercritical, but you got guys pot-shotting deer out of season on our property in New York, and everybody knows it. And they’re throwing them into the back of a truck and driving off with them. Do you know what would happen if that were to be caught? Our whole project would be shut down.”
It’s deer season. Keep an eye out.
And how about this:
Once Inspector One gets going on the environmental concerns, it’s like a flood gate opened. “I’ve got run off going into goddamn public streams! I got tires not being washed going out onto public roadways. I’m telling them we can’t have this, and if you think I’m a prick, wait until the FERC inspector gets out here… Taking topsoil off the property, to your home to use, that’s not allowed. That soil could be contaminated. Taking metal parts, flanges, elbows, things like that and getting scrap metal money for them so you can buy lunch for your crew that day, it’s not allowed. That stuff could be contaminated with all kinds of cancer causing things that can hurt you, hurt the environment.”
What about runoff going into sinkholes in the fragile karst landscape of north Florida and south Georgia, into our sole source drinking water Floridan Aquifer?
The lack of concern Spectra allegedly showed towards safety and the environment extended to the cultural concerns of Native Americans, maintains Inspector One. “The delaying of our permits was in part due to the ceremonial stones and things like that that are related to the Native American population… I have observed stones moved in New York, but no one has the documentation to say that it is okay. I know where there are ceremonial Indian grounds that have been moved.”
Just like they don’t care about a Suwannee County, Florida resident’s grandmother’s ashes.
And watch out for your trees:
Native American land was clear cut far more than was required for the project, says Inspector Two. “They bulldozed 75 percent just for work space… When the big trucks made their delivery no attempts were made to protect the trees.”
Trees were clear cut for temporary parking and work space says Inspector Two. With planning that could have been avoided.
The RI article goes on about the cathodic protection that Spectra Energy Director of Engineering Design Alam Lambeth praised when he flew from Houston to the “middle of nowhere” to testify in WWALS v. Sabal Trail & FDEP in Jasper, Florida. The same cathodic protection that Southern Natural Gas (SONAT) has repeatedly told FERC is compromised by Sabal Trail’s proposed excess number of crossings of SONAT’s existing pipeline. The same cathodic protection that has failed in numerous incidents of corrossion, leaks, fires, and explosions including those the article notes
SpectraBusters has a long list of links to stories about Spectra’s poor performance record.
How about this:
“I have had inspectors that have come up to me in the field and have said to me that there is a pipe buried under ground that was not inspected appropriately. And the reason that it was not excavated and inspected is that it cost too much money.”
All pipeline welds are examined with x-rays to make sure they are up to code. After the weld is x-rayed the inspector waits for the film to come back from the lab. “How is it that you have a pipe already buried before you receive the film?” Inspector One asks, noting that he had a tech “receiving the film (on Tuesday) for a pipe buried last Wednesday.”
How are they going to inspect it under the Suwannee River, or the Santa Fe River, or the Withlacoochee, Flint, Chattachoochee, etc.?
These aren’t the first Spectra whistleblowers. Back in June 2013 Natural Gas Watch reported
A Spectra Energy employee acknowledged to federal inspectors that the company never conducted key tests for corrosion on a natural gas pipeline that was already operating at excess capacity, according to documents recently obtained by NaturalGasWatch.org.
Residents of Searsmont, Maine found out the hard way, after Spectra promised 24/7 monitoring and a Spectra compressor station blew like an air raid siren in the middle of the night. They said:
We’ve been lied to!
There’s a reason the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in December 2013 sent a Final Order to Spectra CEO Greg Ebel for five violations of federal regulations and Spectra’s own company procedures.
There’s a reason the Canadian National Energy Board 18 months later in July 2015 ordered Spectra to fix its “management system failures” and its “systemic” safety problems, adding:
“Based on recent violations described below, the Board is not confident safety concerns are being addressed in this manner.”
How much evidence does it take before any reasonable observer would conclude Spectra’s pipelines and compressor stations are not safe?
Sure, Spectra can hide behind the federal Pipeline Safety Act, and claim state and local governments can do nothing about pipeline safety. They can file legal objections along with a state agency to oppose taking any notice of EPA’s extensive major concerns about the Sabal Trail pipeline.
But we the people are not blind.
Our property, our land, air, and water, our lives and liberty, are not fair game for greedy profit by an invading company from Houston!
The Suwannee County, Florida, Board of Commissioners meets again tonight, considering adding to its resolution to move the Hildreth compressor station. Suwannee County is the latest of many counties and cities to pass resolutions and elected officials to write lett ers opposing the Sabal Trail pipeline.
We the people don’t want the Sabal Trail pipeline, just like the people of Rhode Island don’t want Spectra’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) Project, and the people of Pennsylvania don’t want Spectra collaborator Williams Company’s Atlantic Sunrise Project, and the people of Oregon and Washington State don’t want the Williams pipeline to LNG export.
Pipeline companies go home to Houston!
Even Texas is building record size solar farms at record low prices per kilo-watt-hour.
No new pipelines! Let the sun rise!