Frequently Asked Questions About Environmental Integrity
What precautions does Great Lakes take to protect the environment and public interests?
Great Lakes number one priority is to operate a safe, reliable and environmentally responsible pipeline system. We take precautions to protect the environment and public interests long before any construction begins. We conduct extensive surveysnot just for staking the pipeline route, but also to determine if there are any archaeological, historical or cultural sites; threatened or endangered species of plants or wildlife; fishery resources; needs for noise control; and locations of water wells, drain tiles and septic fields. We select the route that avoids or mitigates impact on the environment and landowners. We also solicit input from public and governmental agencies in an effort to incorporate their concerns into the design and construction of new facilities.
What about during construction?
The land, plants, wildlife, fisheries and special sites are protected with great care, both throughout construction and afterwards. Prior to trenching in farm and wetlands, or in certain other areas where requested by landowners, we separate the topsoil from the subsoil. Once the pipeline is in the trench in these areas, crews cover it with the original subsoil and place the original topsoil over the subsoil. Because of this care, soil conditions along the right-of-way change very little. The root stock contained in wetland topsoil quickly regenerates new growth after the topsoil is put back in position. On cultivated land, we work the land to a condition where new crops can be planted and normal crop production may resume by the next growing season. If crop losses occur, we make reimbursement on a pro-rated basis over three years. Normal farming operations, including both crop growing and grazing, can resume after restoration work is done.
When trees are removed to construct the pipeline, we replant the smaller trees (both fruit trees and ornamental trees) elsewhere. Although there are no assurances that we can save them after replanting, we do all that we can to promote their survival. Large trees have to be cleared for construction and to allow access for maintenance later. You are compensated for this loss. In some cases, smaller vegetation may have to be cleared again for maintenance access. Because the pipeline is buried, the visible signs of its path are generally limited to the absence of bushes and trees along the right-of-way. There may also be a lack of snow cover on the right-of-way and a minimal drying of the soil due to the warmth of the gas moving through the pipeline.
We do restoration work on all landagricultural, public and residential, streams, uplands, wetlands and rivers. The entire right-of-way is cleaned up and reseeded. We take care to return the look of scenic rivers as nearly as possible to original condition by planting barrier trees and plants native to the area on the right-of-way as it enters and leaves the river. Small, unobtrusive pipeline markers are placed on the banks of rivers. The markers are also placed at road crossings, railroad crossings and fence lines. They are not placed in the middle of farmers fields.
For the pipeline itself, we use high-strength, steel pipe that is coated with an epoxy or special material to protect against corrosion. Sections of the pipe are welded together and each weld is x-rayed to ensure there are no defects. If any defects are found, the weld is repaired or replaced and then x-rayed again. The welds are also coated to protect against corrosion. Once in the trench, the pipe is tested with pressurized water and, if any problems are found, it is repaired or replaced. Then it is tested again.
How does pipeline construction affect stream and river quality?
On a permanent basis, very little. During construction, some dirt particles may enter the water, but they normally are no more than would enter the water after a heavy rainfall. Additionally, if necessary, we build stream-bottom traps to assist in the capture of sediment that may enter the water during or after construction.
Prior to construction, we and our environmental consultants meet with state and federal regulators, such as local Departments of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service, to develop the most efficient stream-crossing techniques.
Following construction, we follow strict erosion control measures on the right-of-way to prevent dirt or sediment from entering the water.
For more information, contact:
Great Lakes Gas Transmission Company
717 Texas Street
Houston, TX 77002
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