LAKE TWP. — Clumps of mud and rocks turned Loyalville Road into a minefield and fueled a meeting with Williams Energy Atlantic Sunrise pipeline management team, township supervisors and the public Wednesday.
The $3 billion pipeline project is crossing through Lake Township to transport a projected 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas from Susquehanna County to Choctaw County, Alabama. The pipeline has eight road crossings in Lake Township, which created issues with mud and rocks tracked on roads, road flaggers delaying an elementary school bus, and work crew yelling and making obscene gestures to motorists.
“The purpose of this meeting is for you to understand what the problems are and get a solution before someone gets hurt,” township Supervisor Chairman Bob Pace said.
A month ago, Pace received a phone call from a resident at 2 a.m. reporting they thought they hit an animal on Loyalville Road and stopped their vehicle. Upon inspection, the resident saw it was a large clump of mud from the trench site of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline, Pace said.
“We have people living in a dangerous situation,” Pace said. “It does not look like they used geo-fabric at Loyalville Road (pipeline site entrances),” he said.
Geo fabric is a permeable material used to aid in drainage and to prevent soil erosion.
Township resident Charles Kohl said he would see trucks leaving a “ribbon of mud” on the road as they exited the pipeline site.
Williams contractor Henkels & McCoy Inc. does have road sweepers that are supposed to clean mud and site debris off roadways, said Steve Jay, the construction manager, with Williams Energy Atlantic Sunrise natural gas line project.
Supervisors and residents reported seeing the trucks driving around without the brushes down.
The Williams Atlantic Sunrise project was recently issued a violation for mud on area roadways by the Luzerne Conservation District, Supervisor Vice Chairman Jerry Price said.
“It seems best management practices may be on your permit, but does your foreman understand them?” Price asked Cindy Ivey, a spokesperson; Rob Krenz, the project manager; and Jay, who are all with Williams Energy Atlantic Sunrise natural gas line project.
Site workers are supposed to notify the road sweeper drivers when a piece of equipment is leaving the pipeline site to control mud and rocks debris, Krenz said.
“It should be three to four times a day,” Krenz said. “Reports of large clumps of mud and rock is unacceptable. Crews should use shovels to remove it from roads.”
One resident suggested trucks leaving the pipeline site should stop on the rock pad and have excess rocks and mud knocked off to prevent it from collecting on the roads.
Jay said that is easier to do with bigger trucks than with the welding trucks, whose wheel wells make it difficult to see mud.
Several residents asked why the road sweepers were not using water to remove the muddy film covering Loyalville and Meeker Outlet roads.
The use of water is prohibited by the Department of Environmental Protect, Price said.
“We can recommend water usage be added to the permit,” Price said, noting the Luzerne Conservation District’s violation requires Williams to develop a corrective action plan, which gives the company an opportunity to amend the original permit.
Residents voiced concerns about other issues such as construction vehicles parking on both sides of the street, delaying a school bus filled with elementary school students, work crews yelling and making obscene gestures to motorists.
“It definitely sounds like we need to do some retraining,” Krenz said. “The buck stops with us.”
“Flaggers are expected to not use profanity or obscene gestures,” Ivey said. “That is very disturbing to us.”
Jay clarified the school bus incident on Zosh Road was delayed about 17 minutes.
“Flaggers are supposed to call the job foreman when a school bus or emergency vehicle is present,” Jay said. “The flagger felt the plate (covering a trench in the road) was not safe and held the bus. We can do better.”
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.