2017-12-06 / Letters

No Potomac pipeline

Dear Editor:

“A cleanup is underway after about 210,000 gallons of oil leaked on Thursday from the Keystone Pipeline onto the ground in South Dakota.” The Keystone Pipeline is operated by TransCanada, headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. TransCanada is proposing to drill beneath the Potomac River near Hancock, Maryland to transport Pennsylvania fracked gas into West Virginia, where it is proposed to be transported through the panhandle by a Mountaineer Gas Pipeline.

TransCanada proposes to drill under the Potomac and C&O Canal in an area where the rock is easily dissolved by groundwater. Karst geology is characterized by underground rivers, caves, sinkholes, fractures and other instabilities. Drilling and tunneling through karst can contaminate groundwater. “The federal government fined the company $135,400 this year for safety violations including corrosion control, and since 2011, regulators have opened 13 enforcement cases against TransCanada.” The Eastern Panhandle of WV also has sensitive karst geology where the MGC pipeline is proposed to be built.

Imagine a steel pipeline, subject to corrosion, gouging through these porous rocks. Any “incident” while drilling or from failure of the pipeline once installed, could have devastating effects on the water quality of the Potomac River, Sleepy Creek, Back Creek, Warm Springs Run and many other streams and private wells, right in our backyards. The three most common causes of gas pipeline failure, according to the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, are pipe/weld material failure, excavation damage, and corrosion.

The #1 public health concern from natural gas drilling and infrastucture is our drinking water.

This concern is why our community is growing in resistance to this dirty and dangerous pipeline. To voice your concern, join local residents at the Hancock Middle/Senior High School on Tuesday, December 19 from 6-9 p.m. for a Maryland Department of Environment public hearing regarding the pipeline.

Laura Steepleton

Berkeley Springs

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