AG: Shell Falcon Pipeline charged, accused of violating Pennsylvania law during pipeline construction

(WHTM)– The Attorney General announced Friday charges were filed against Shell Falcon Pipeline LP for violating Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law.

According to a news release, there were 13 charges filed in Washington County that include seven counts of unlawful conduct (under the Clean Streams Law), three counts of the prohibition against discharge of industrial wastes, and three counts of prohibition against other pollutions.

The charges are regarding the construction of the 45-mile pipeline in western Pennsylvania that spans through Washington, Allegheny and Beaver Counties.

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“Pennsylvania’s environmental laws are in place to keep families and communities safe from harm caused by major construction projects, such as pipelines,” Attorney General Henry said in a statement. “This company chose to ignore those laws and kept quiet issues that should have been disclosed to prevent potential impacts. Pennsylvanians have rights to clean air and water, and as we mark Earth Day this weekend, my office reaffirms its commitment to protecting those basic freedoms.”

According to the AG’s investigation, Shell did not notify the Department of Environmental Protection about issues it encountered during horizontal directional drilling when it was constructing parts of the pipeline, the release states.

According to the release, “During horizontal directional drilling construction, drilling mud must be used to lubricate the drill bit and to stabilize the hole. Sometimes, this mud can travel outside of the bore path underground through fractures or voids in the rock. This ‘lost’ mud has the potential to surface in unintended locations, including wetlands or surface water, or to travel through these fractures and impact groundwater. At this point in the drilling process, the mud is an industrial waste and ultimately results in pollution wherever it ends up — which happened during Shell construction.”

Shell is accused of not reporting the “losses of circulation” to the DEP or the areas were the mud surfaced, according to the AG. Shell also allegedly did not install real-time data logging devices on its drilling equipment.

The case will be prosecuted by the Office of Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Section.

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The construction of the pipeline began in 2019.

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