You are here

Request That Governor Cuomo Immediately Revoke Proposed Dominion New Market Pipeline Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan

February 3, 2017

Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224


I write respectfully to request that you take urgent administrative action to revoke or otherwise prevent implementation of a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SPPP) submitted pursuant to a State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activity (GP-0-15-02) for the proposed Dominion New Market Pipeline Project.

On 1/30/17, I forwarded for your review a letter regarding a variance request and a Notice to Proceed submitted by Dominion Transmission, Inc. to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its New Market Project Docket Nos. CP14-497-000. Dominion requested a response by 2/7/17.

See: Dominion New Market Variance Documents

Dominion's Limit of Disturbance (LOD) Wetland and Waterbody Encroachment Variance Request

I requested that FERC DENY the above-referenced variance request and withhold authorization for the proposed New Market project to proceed until after numerous documented fatal flaws in the SPPP have been corrected.

With that same goal in mind, I request that your Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) formally request FERC to require the SPPP's problems to be rectified before it can be used for regulatory compliance purposes for the proposed pipeline project.

This is critically important because Dominion's variance request would allow construction activity within the Limit of Disturbance (LOD) delineated at multiple sites to encroach upon the 50-foot wetland or waterbody buffer required by applicable Wetland and Waterbody Construction and Mitigation Procedures.

Those variances must not be granted because they are based on a fundamentally faulty SPPP and could cause irreparable water quality hazards.

Variance Would Apply to Borger Compressor Station

The variance request would most importantly apply to the Borger Compressor Station site located at 219 Ellis Hollow Creek Road, Ithaca, NY. This site has wetlands and waterways either adjoining or in close proximity on three sides of the facility (East, South and West).

Dominion's Variance Request and Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan Based on Fatally Flawed Analysis

Dominion's SPPP has numerous stunning errors. It is deplorable that they were not identified and corrected before now by regulatory authorities.

According to Section 2.1.4 Surface Water and Wetlands in Project Area, the SPPP states:

"Wetland and waterbody delineation surveys were conducted by Tetra Tech, Inc. at the existing compressor station. Several existing wetlands and waterbodies were discovered at the Borger Compressor Station. However, all of these features are located outside (emphasis added) of the proposed Limit of Disturbance (LOD)."

This erroneous conclusion is reflected in Dominion's variance request. See first map at: Borger Compressor Station Maps - Inadequate Wetland Assessment and Toxic Cleanup

Dominion's SPPP Fails to Identify Multiple Protected Wetlands Within the Original and Proposed Revised Limit of Disturbance (LOD) Areas

Dominion's SPPP fails to identify multiple protected wetlands, including protected wetlands earlier delineated in multiple reports prepared to assess the impact of toxic contamination hazards that were never cleaned up to state standards at the Borger Compressor Station Site.

Those wetlands and buffer zones are located within the original as well as the proposed revised LOD areas. See second map at: Borger Compressor Station Maps - Inadequate Wetland Assessment and Toxic Cleanup

There can be no question that the maps presented in Dominion's Variance request are inaccurate. The project site delineation does not comport with local tax parcel boundaries. Wetlands do not line up with spatial delineations available from local, state and federal authorities. Multiple streams are not delineated.

Protected wetland delineations were submitted to your DEC as part of a Site Characterization Report and a Remedial Action Report for toxic contamination identified at the site circa 1999 and 2000, respectively.

Your DEC failed to require extensive chemical contamination to be comprehensively cleaned up in strict compliance with state standards even though protected wetlands were impacted or threatened by the pollution sources.

The entire Borger Compressor Station area drains into Cascadilla Creek, a major tributary to Cayuga Lake. More than 30,000 local residents drink water supplied from that waterbody, which is listed on the national 303(d) registry of impaired waterbodies. It would be irresponsible to permit any activities that might exacerbate Cayuga Lake's water quality problems.

That requirement is spelled out in Appendix E of the SPPP.

Request That DEC Require Clean Up All Toxic Pollution involving Borger Compressor Station as well as Adjoining Wetlands and Waterbodies

As you can see from the Site Characterization Report excerpts for the Borger Compressor Station, five Areas of Concern (AOC) with documented toxic pollution were identified after spill #9806491 was reported on 8/26/98.

DEC failed to require AOC #1 and #2 to be remediated even though high levels of petroleum were identified through soil sampling and analysis. A total of 89,714 parts per million of Total Organic Carbon was detected at AOC #1. A total of 8,776 parts per million of TOC was detected at AOC #2.

At AOC #3, "Excavation of the former liquids pits revealed standing water with an oily sheen on portions of the water in the pit. The oily sheen and surface water were controlled using sorbent booms, and water below the sheen was pumped to a storage tank pending proper disposal considerations."

See page 4 at: Remedial Action Report - Borger Compressor Station

"The water analytical results are presented in Table 3. BTEX was not detected in samples BGR-3E-001. However, TPH [Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons, not in original] was detected at a concentration of 17 micrograms per liter (ug/l) in sample BGR-3W-001.

After review of the sample results, the water from the excavation held in the storage tank was discharged to the ground through hay bales because the sample collected of the water below the oily sheen did not contain detectable constituents of concern and SVOCs [semi-volatile organic chemicals, not in the original] were not detected in either sample."

Table 3 indicates, however, that the TPH concentration detected in BGR-3W-001 on 10/01/99 was 17 mg/l. This is 1,000 times higher than the microgram/liter (ug/l) concentration referenced in the report narrative.

Under any scenario, dumping contaminated groundwater on the ground that originally exhibited an "oily sheen" is irresponsible. The use of hay bales is primitive and ineffective for removing toxic chemicals.

Finally, AOC #5 was not cleaned up to state standards even though Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbon exceedances were reported near the protected wetlands delineated in Figures 1 and 2.

For your review, the original pipeline spill and protected wetland maps are presented at: Inadequate Investigation and Clean up Documentation Borger Compressor Station CNG Spill # 9806491

For all these reasons, Dominion's New Market spill prevention plan is obviously meaningless because toxic spills were never cleaned up to state standards at the Borger Compressor Station and other existing Dominion Pipeline sites.

See: Dominion Pipeline (earlier known as CNG) spills


Your DEC has failed to review and provide adequate regulatory oversight for Dominion's New Market SPPP as well as for the Section 401 Water Quality Certification granted for the proposed project under a "blanket authorization."

Given the numerous fundamental problems that I documented at Borger Compression Station, the findings of the entire SPPP must be called into question for all sites involved. DEC must now double-check the other existing and proposed New Market facilities for similar shortcomings.

Given those concerns, I respectfully request that you require the SPPP plan to be revoked or otherwise prevented from being used for regulatory authorization purposes until all the problems I have documented herein are fixed.

I also reiterate my request that you rescind the Section 401 Water Quality Certification improperly granted for the Dominion New Market Project.

FERC granted conditional approval for Dominion New Market based on a mandate of "compensatory mitigation." Since FERC's requirement has obviously not been enforced for the existing Dominion Pipeline, I request that you take formal action to require FERC's approval to be rescinded.

The proposed project must not be permitted to proceed until DEC requires the Borger Compressor Station site and all other components of the existing pipeline to be investigated and remediated in strict compliance with all applicable toxic clean up standards.

As part of that effort, the protected wetlands and waterbodies threatened by AOCs #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5 must be cleaned up and restored because they drain into Cascadilla Creek, a major tributary to Cayuga Lake.

FERC also must mandate full remediation compliance for the Borger Compressor Station Site given that Section 401 of the U. S. Clean Water Act requires DEC to certify that the Dominion New Market Pipeline will not cause water quality violations.

See: Section 401 Certification

Finally, your DEC is drafting a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) clean up plan to address Cayuga Lake's water quality impairments. The TMDL is 18 years late and was originally required in 2004 as a "high priority."

It would be inconceivable that you would allow Dominion to exacerbate Cayuga Lake's water quality hazards just as your administration is finally getting around to alleviating and eliminating them.

In conclusion, your administration has systematically failed to enforce regulatory requirements that safeguard public health and New York's environment from fossil fuel pipeline and infrastructure hazards. That is unacceptable as a matter of public policy. I request that you resolve this problem without any further delay.

I trust that you will find my comments self-explanatory, but please do not hesitate to contact me if I can answer any questions that you might have regarding my request.

Very best regards,

Walter Hang

cc: Honorable Barbara S. Lifton
Honorable Walter Mugdan, Acting EPA Region 2 Administrator
Honorable Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, FERC
Honorable Steven Englebright
Honorable Thomas F. O'Mara
Honorable Charles E. Schumer
Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand
Honorable Basil Seggos