The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that it has executed a $670,000 consent assessment of civil penalty with Shell Pipeline Company LP and its contractor, Minnesota Limited LLC, for violations of its permit and Pennsylvania laws and regulations that occurred in 2019 and 2020 during construction of the company’s Falcon pipeline project. 

Between March 14, 2019, and April 9, 2021, DEP and the Allegheny, Beaver, and Washington County conservation districts, on DEP’s behalf, conducted at least 67 inspections of the pipeline construction sites to determine compliance by Shell Pipeline Company and Minnesota Limited with permits as well as state laws and regulations. 

DEP and the conservation districts observed violations resulting in sediment pollution from pipeline construction sites entering waters of the commonwealth as well as violations that had the potential to cause sediment pollution into waters of the commonwealth. However, no visual aquatic impacts were observed. The violations included five inadvertent returns, eight sediment discharges, failure to comply with permit conditions, failure to implement or maintain effective erosion and sediment best management practices, and failure to stabilize the site upon cessation of earth disturbance activity. DEP also found that Shell Pipeline Company and Minnesota Limited failed to notify DEP of inadvertent returns as required. 

The approximately 45.5-mile-long Falcon pipeline crosses through portions of Allegheny, Beaver, and Washington counties connecting ethane production facilities in Houston, Pa. to a petrochemical facility in Monaca, Pa., which is permitted to Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC. A separate segment of the pipeline connects ethane production facilities in Scio and Cadiz, Ohio and crosses through Beaver County the petrochemical facility. Shell Pipeline Company received an erosion and sediment control general permit for the project and coverage under Chapter 105 encroachment permits in Allegheny, Beaver, and Washington counties in December 2018. Approximately 608 acres of land were disturbed during construction of the pipeline. 

Pipeline construction is complete and construction sites have been temporarily stabilized. Shell Pipeline Company and Minnesota Limited are in the process of achieving permanent stabilization. 

Shell Pipeline Company has agreed to pay a $670,000 civil penalty. In addition, the company will pay cost recovery in the amounts of $21,339 to DEP; $1,824 to the Allegheny County Conservation District; $1,496 to the Beaver County Conservation District, and $2,611 to the Washington County Conservation District. Of the total payment to DEP, $479,464 will go into the commonwealth’s Clean Water Fund and $211,875 will go into the Encroachments Fund.