In a blatant attempt to cut corners, Sabal Pipeline construction workers haphazardly dug up already buried pipes, DAMAGED THEM, and buried them back in the ground. This not only compromises the integrity of the anti-corrosion coating of the pipeline, but their negligence is setting up THOUSANDS of Floridians for the inevitable leak of methane and other chemicals into their water source.
In this exclusive video, taken by local activist and resident, Mitch Allen, Sabal Pipeline construction workers are seen excavating over one-thousand feet of pipeline in Wetland 034A (labeled in this FERC map) in Polk County and placing geotextile pipeline weights (or ecobags) on top of the pipes. You see, these ecobags are meant to weigh down the pipes so the welds don’t loosen and the pipe doesn’t pop out of place along the trail.
Well, at some point, someone realized that they FORGOT TO PLACE THE ECOBAGS IN THE FIRST PLACE and were forced to RE-EXCAVATE the Sabal Pipeline in multiple locations in Florida. These pipes were unearthed with no warning signs, no inspection, and not even a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) report, which they are SUPPOSED to complete and make readily available for the public. FERC, specifically, shouldn’t be keeping people in the dark, since the whole POINT of FERC is to regulate our energy in the best interest of residents. So much for that regulation, right?
BEAT THE PRESS // DONATE TO TATM FOR JUSTICE JOURNALISM
In the footage captured by Mitch Allen and his buddy John, you can clearly see the damage caused by the track hoe shovel.
If that sounds crazy, that’s because it is.
You see the white stripe surrounding the pipe that was scraped off with the track hoe? This is what it’s supposed to look like:
Here is how Sabal Pipeline construction workers buried it when they had to dig it back up:
Here’s what this means: There are currently thousands of feet of POTENTIALLY DAMAGED Sabal Pipeline, already buried underground, that will have natural gas pumping through them as early as June.
Mitch and his buddy John were able to film SCRATCHES and SCRAPINGS of the pipeline’s green coating, meant to protect the pipeline from corrosion and leaks. Instead of getting the inspector to examine the pipes after the track hoe made contact, the workers simply re-buried the pipes, scrapes, scratches and all. You even SEE the safety inspector, inspection tool in hand, walking away!
And that coating isn’t pretty just for show. It’s actually an IMPORTANT and sensitive coating specifically designed to withstand corrosion. In fact, according to the Sabal Pipeline’s own EROSION AND SEDIMENTATION CONTROL PLAN, the PLANTS need to be cleared near the pipeline or else it will “compromise’ the integrity of the pipeline coating.”
Not to mention, the topsoil they’re mixing is very sandy. Part of the reason why you’re supposed to put the ecobags BEFORE you bury the pipeline is because that dusty topsoil acts like corrosive sandpaper, and can scratch the anticorrosive surface of the pipes. In other words, THEY’RE MEANT TO BE PLACED ON TOP OF CLEAN PIPES.
You know how I know? It says it in that very same Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan:
“NEVER use topsoil for padding the pipe, constructing temporary slope breakers or trench plugs, improving or maintaining roads, or as a fill material.” – Page 3-5, section 126.96.36.199
NEVER use top soil for padding the pipe, you say? The video by Mitch Allen shows them doing EXACTLY that, but worse–they’re using mixed topsoil as padding between the pipes and the ECOBAGS weighing them down:
I don’t know about you guys, but these pipes look pretty compromised to me.
And just so you can see what the testing of these pipelines SHOULD look like, here’s a pipeline worker using a machine to test the integrity of the pipeline’s coating:
In other words, these Sabal Pipeline workers are trying to sweep this under the rug. The problem is, this mistake guarantees that the State of Florida’s major water supply will inevitably be poisoned with pressurized chemicals from these damaged pipes.
Why? Well, because wetlands act like filters/sponges that lead into Florida’s aquifer, which provides over 60% of Florida’s drinking water. A gas leak into a wetland does irreversible damage to YOUR drinking water.
You want to know what that looks like?
So once that pipe splits open, you can kiss your clean tap water goodbye.
This is serious, guys.
There’s no telling how much pipeline was damaged during the re-excavating process, and in how many locations. While Mitch recorded this footage in Polk County on March 21st 2017, there are also reports of the Sabal Pipeline being dug up 208 miles away, at the Suwannee River State Park just four days earlier.
This footage from March 17, 2017 indicates that when PSC Rockford (the company contracted to build the pipeline) screwed up, they screwed up bad enough to have to dig up miles of already-laid pipeline.
“They worked for two or three days, had two large track hoes, two bulldozers and at least 8 workers,” said Mitch Allen, who owns his own mini-excavator and is a small-utility contractor of 30+ years. He guesstimates a cost of around $20,000 for this dig alone, not including the land restoration, meaning that this was an EXPENSIVE mistake.
Just like you wouldn’t tolerate shoddy construction for your house plumbing, we shouldn’t be tolerating THIS, especially since Florida’s aquifers begin their filtration cycles from the very wetlands on which the Sabal Pipeline is being built.
I mean, what is the point of having Florida as a conduit for natural gas that, when it will eventually be liquefied and exported to China, and they’re not even going to do it safely or follow-up on these agreed-upon regulations? The Sabal Pipeline owners like to emphasize that they’re dedicated to “safety,” yet can’t even install it correctly without having to dig out the pipe multiple times, DAMAGING it.
The question is no longer IF the Sabal Pipeline will break, but WHEN it will happen, and how Florida will cope with the devastation that comes with flammable gas spewing into their wetlands.
Here is what you can do: SHARE THIS ARTICLE AND VIDEO FAR AND WIDE. But most importantly, there must be a unified effort to ensure that the Florida Department of Transportation acknowledges this video, and we must DEMAND an investigation into the negligence of this incident. Building a gas pipeline and praying it doesn’t burst is one thing, it’s a COMPLETELY different thing to have video PROOF of damaged pipelines being deliberately BURIED underground.
And it doesn’t end here. Mitch Allen has a lot of FERC violations filmed and will be sharing them with us, so stay tuned for those! In the meantime, check out his YouTube page for other jaw-dropping violations the Sabal Pipeline project is trying to get away with. We’re also waiting to hear back from FERC, because they obviously have a lot of explaining to do, so make sure to check back for updates.
Edited by Taylor Raines and Lydia McMullen-Laird