Public Hearing on Brandywine Creek gas pipeline crossing
The Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club opposes proposed plan for the the Williams-Transcontinental so-called “Sentinel Project” and its proposed “Downingtown Loop” to replace a 30” pipeline with a 42” pipeline.
We urge the Pennsylvania DEP to reject the permit applications for the Chapter 105 Stream Encroachment Permit (joint 404 permit), Erosion and Sediment Control Permit, and the NPDES Permit for Stormwater Discharge from Construction Activity applications submitted by Transcontinental Gas and Pipeline Company (“Transco”) for its pipeline upgrade project in the Brandywine Creek watershed.
These permits would authorize the replacement of an existing 30-inch gas pipeline with a 42-inch pipeline along a 7-mile stretch of one of Transco’s existing pipelines, crossing the East Branch of the Brandywine Creek and Ludwigs Run utilizing an open “trench” cut method.
The risks of this type of construction are too great for Brandywine Creek. Williams-Transcontinental has received numerous natural gas pipeline safety violations from the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration.
While this project takes place in Pennsylvania, Delawareans are the downstream stakeholders, as the Brandywine Creek is a critical water resource for our state.
The Brandywine Creek is the largest surface drinking water source for Delawareans residing in Northern New Castle County. A natural gas accident, whether in the construction or operation of the Transco pipeline, would place the drinking water of tens of thousands of Delawareans at risk.
Sediment runoff from the project, especially the open trench for laying the pipe across Brandywine Creek, would harm water quality and fisheries. The Brandywine Creek provides the only sustainable smallmouth bass fishery in the state of Delaware. Sediment is particularly harmful to river fisheries, as it changes the characteristics of the stream, covering eggs and preventing them from hatching, changing clear water to turbid water, and impacting spawning habitat. Protection of this valuable and unique resource from harm is of critical importance.
Within the last five years Williams Transcontinental has been involved in at least three incidents involving serious natural gas explosions. The 2008 explosion near Appomattox, Virginia destroyed two homes and seriously injured five people (Natural Gas Watch). A similar explosion in the Brandywine Creek could damage the drinking water and riverine environment in northern Delaware.
We ask for caution in proceeding with any pipeline crossing of the Brandywine Creek. We ask that you take the risks that this project poses to your downstream neighbors in Delaware, and reject the permits that are before you today.