ETP says Ohio's EPA wants to delay Rover natgas pipeline completion

(Reuters) - Energy Transfer Partners LP said on Monday that state environmental regulators in Ohio were using a notice of violation related to the unapproved disposal of industrial waste to delay completion of the company’s Rover natural gas pipeline.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued the violation to Rover after the company deposited spent drilling mud containing low levels of a chemical solvent, tetrachloroethene, known as PCE, without approval, according to the EPA’s July 11 filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

PCE is widely used in dry cleaning of fabrics and the manufacture of other chemicals.

“Ohio EPA’s filing of the (notice of violations) with FERC was not for any legitimate purpose, but rather was an attempt to cynically use the commission to once again delay the completion of this necessary project,” ETP said in its filing with the federal regulator on Monday.

ETP has long said it was not the source of the PCE, which the company said likely came from former industrial activity. Regardless of the source, ETP added, all detected levels of PCE are well below Ohio’s soil clean-up standards and are not in danger of affecting ground water.

Officials at the Ohio EPA and ETP were not immediately available for comment.

The $4.2 billion Rover project is designed to carry up to 3.25 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale fields in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast as well as Ontario, Canada. One bcf is enough gas to supply about five million U.S. homes for a day.

ETP originally planned to complete Rover in November 2017, but since starting construction on the project in March of last year, it has received numerous notices of violation in Ohio and other states, some of which led to temporary stop-work orders from both state and federal regulators.

Rover, which has been entering service in phases as ETP completes each section, is capable of transporting at least 1.7 bcfd across Ohio and into Michigan, according to the company’s website.

FERC, however, has told ETP that it will not approve the start-up of additional sections of the pipeline until the company restores land around certain parts of the project that are already in service.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino, editing by G Crosse