HARRISBURG, PA — Attorney General Josh Shapiro, in conjunction with the 46th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, this week announced that the Office of Attorney General Environmental Crimes Section has charged ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC (ETC), a subsidiary of Energy Transfer, LP (Energy Transfer), with nine counts of environmental crimes related to their conduct during the construction of the Revolution Pipeline.
“The Grand Jurors heard testimony and examined records that showed that explosion happened because of Energy Transfer’s negligence as they built the Revolution pipeline,” said AG Shapiro. “I want to be clear: no matter the project, no matter the company, my Office will hold those who break the law accountable for cutting corners, hurting people’s livelihoods, and risking people’s safety.”
The Revolution Pipeline is a 42.5 mile pipeline that starts in Butler County, Pa., and is routed through Beaver and Allegheny counties, and connects to a gas processing plant in Washington County. Grand jurors reviewed evidence that ETC repeatedly ignored environmental protocols and custom plans that were created to minimize erosion and the possibility of a landslide at the site, which they were restoring to its pre-construction appearance. The site was located on a steep hillside above Raccoon Creek that flows directly into the Ohio river. Inspectors and conservationists visited the construction site multiple times and wrote violations, but those violations carried few consequences for the contractors.
The Grand Jury learned that the lack of erosion control devices led to an initial landslide at the Center Township site. The landslide deposited large amounts of sediment into the creek, making it cloudy. Despite this initial incident, the contractors continued restoring the pipeline site without adding more erosion controls.
On September 10, 2018, a second landslide occurred at the site. A section of the pipeline, which had been insufficiently embedded into the bedrock of the site, became separated from the rest of the line. Gas escaped from the pipeline, causing a devastating explosion. The jurors heard testimony from nearby residents that they were awakened by the sound of loud roaring, like a freight train, and witnessed an “orange glow as bright as day.” Residents had to evacuate their homes as their barns, vehicles, and homes burned. Over two acres of mature trees burned into piles of ash, and six high-voltage transmission towers collapsed.
Due to ETC’s failure to conduct proper oversight of the Revolution Pipeline project and ensure the proper installation and maintenance of erosion control devices, its pollution impacted the waters of the Commonwealth in violation of the Clean Streams Law. ETC Northeast Pipeline, LLC, is charged with 2 counts of Prohibition of Discharge of Industrial Waste; 2 counts of Prohibition Against Other Pollutions; 2 counts of Potential Pollution; and 3 counts of Unlawful Conduct.
This case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Courtney Butterfield. All charges are accusations and the defendant is innocent unless and until proven guilty.