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Federal regulators have signed off on a plan to address safety concerns over the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has issued a consent order to Equitrans Midstream, the builder of the 303-mile natural gas pipeline in West Virginia and Virginia.
Equitrans must test for and correct any deficiencies in uninstalled sections of the pipe that could lead to corrosion.
Environmental and community groups had raised the alarm about sections of pipe that had been exposed to the elements for several years while the project was tied up in court.
Sun exposure can degrade the protective coating that prevents the pipe from corroding. As part of the agreement, the coating will be reapplied when necessary.
Over the summer, Congress mandated the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and a federal appeals court dismissed the remaining lawsuits against it.
In a statement, Diana Charletta, Equitrans’ president and operating chief, said the agreement would not have a material impact on the project’s cost or schedule.
“The terms of this consent agreement are directly aligned with Equitrans’ core values, which include continually striving to go above and beyond regulatory compliance requirements,” she said. “Importantly, the agreement outlines actions that are designed to reassure the public of MVP’s integrity and demonstrates our commitment to safe, responsible construction and in-service operations.”
The $6.6 billion project is scheduled for completion by year’s end.
Jessica Sims, Virginia field coordinator for Appalachian Voices, one of the groups that challenged the safety of the uninstalled pipe, said the agreement still fell short.
“We remain concerned about the degraded pipe that developers rushed to bury before today’s agreement, and we are disappointed that the requests from those directly impacted by this destructive, unnecessary project were not addressed,” she said. “Impacted residents asked for more community engagement, determination of a new impact radius and evacuation zone, and increased protection from geohazards.”