Pipeline Investigation Report: “Call it a Whitewash”
For Immediate Release: Thursday December 12, 2019
Hinesburg, VT — The Vermont Gas Pipeline investigation report allows for unsafe construction. Activists are calling it a whitewash.
“This report flies in the face of mountains of evidence revealing systemic failures to comply with both federal minimum safety standards and barely even considers the higher standards that the Vermont Certificate of Public Good promised,” said Rachel Smolker of Protect Geprags Park in Hinesburg. “This is a sham.”
“Building a new pipeline at this stage in the climate crisis was never acceptable to begin with. These kinds of projects that lock us into fossil fuels for decades must stop being approved,” added Julie Macuga, an organizer with 350 Vermont in Burlington. “We expect the PUC to hold Vermont Gas accountable– the investigator seems to suggest a slap on the wrist. We need more than that, and will challenge any other projects proposed by VGS.”
“Just last year, we saw a gas pipeline explosion in Massachusetts,” said Shaina Kasper of Toxics Action Center in Montpelier. “Vermont Gas has made it clear they don’t care about public safety. They give us no choice but to keep fighting a project that threatens the health of our communities and our planet.”
This report makes clear the ANGP pipeline has no concern for the health of workers, compliance with safety standards, or our ongoing dependence on fossil fuels.
The group’s lawyer submitted detailed requests to Mr. Byrd, to help him obtain the documents from VGS’s engineers that would show what they did do and what they didn’t do, and statements from eyewitnesses who actually saw unsafe construction going on. Mr. Byrd chose not to ask for the documents or to speak to the eyewitnesses.
People and property within 300 feet of pipelines are subject to unavoidable catastrophic risk, and the only way to mitigate this risk is through careful pipeline construction. The investigator has said that it is ok to go forward with substandard construction by posting signs and warning people in this 300-foot incineration zone to be careful.
“This so-called ‘independent investigation’ is essentially the opinion of a gas industry insider who is not examining whether the ANGP was built to specifications, but rather if it was built to minimum industry standards. We were promised better than that,” said Jane Palmer, a Monkton resident who lives along the pipeline route. “The facts show that it was not built using the safety measures we were promised. As someone who sleeps in the incineration zone, this is very concerning.”
The state has not yet offered a decision, and the investigation is far from over. If others are concerned about the lack of safety around gas pipelines, they should continue to get their voices heard and speak out at upcoming public hearings.