Transco Pipeline - Brandywine Creek Crossing
Transcontinental Gas and Pipeline Company (“Transco”) is replacing an existing 30-inch gas pipeline in Chester County, PA with a 42-inch pipeline. The project as proposed would cross and affect the East Branch of the Brandywine Creek (WWF-MF) and Ludwig’s Run (WWF-MF) at two locations by utilizing an open cut method. Also, an unnamed tributary to East Branch of the Brandywine Creek (WWF-MF) would be affected by a temporary construction crossing and another unnamed tributary to East Branch of Brandywine Creek (HQ-TSF, MF) would be crossed by the pump diversion during the use of a coffer dam.
Transco is pursuing from the Pennsylvania DEP a Chapter 105 Stream Encroachment Permit (joint 404 permit), an Erosion and Sediment Control Permit, and a NPDES Permit for Stormwater Discharge from construction activity. These permits would authorize the replacement of the existing 30-inch gas pipeline with a 42-inch pipeline, between Stations 2269 and 2295, along a 7-mile stretch of one of Transco’s major pipelines. As proposed, the scope of this construction activity and stream crossings associated with this project will have a deleterious effect on the water resources of the Brandywine Creek and tributary streams, and the Delaware River Basin.
Transco is currently refusing to implement horizontal direct drilling to mitigate the detrimental environmental impacts on the waterbodies, even though Transco itself recognizes that such a method is a viable option and in the past PADEP demanded that Transco use this less damaging approach. Transco’s only arguments against using such a method are cost and time. The “open cut” stream crossing method that Transco plans on utilizing is associated with significant sedimentation problems, as the construction activity commences in the stream as it is flowing.
Also, much of the right of way in which the construction will take place is atop extremely steep slopes, up to 35-40% gradient, which makes the area particularly vulnerable to sediment and erosion problems from rain events.
Transco has a history of regulatory compliance failures. For example, in a previous project on the same exact stretch of pipeline where work is proposed now, Transco’s BMPs –authorized by PADEP – failed, resulting in significant sediment discharges into water bodies. As a result, PADEP issued at least one Notice of Violation for Transco’s erosion control failures.
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is currently working to secure strong review of this proposal and the most protective stream crossing strategy for the Creek and communities, which as of now looks to be the horizontal direct drilling that will go under the creek and not through it, and will also avoid disturbance to the riparian buffer area of the creek for several hundred feet.