LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — U.S Army Corps of Engineers documents show that a planned pipeline project in Kentucky would affect more than 750 rivers, streams, wetlands and ponds during construction.
The proposed Bluegrass Pipeline would carry natural gas liquids through more than a dozen Kentucky counties on the way to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/Qh3f5h ) obtained a wetlands destruction permit submitted to the Corps of Engineers in December with a Freedom of Information Act request. The permit says the construction would require digging trenches through most of the waterways or drilling underneath others, as well as maintaining a 50-foot cleared right of way.
"Impacts on water bodies crossed by the project would be temporary," the pipeline project asserted in an initial wetlands-destruction permit application to the Corps dated Dec. 30, 2013. "As proposed, the project will not result in a permanent loss of wetlands."
The permit has since been withdrawn and the pipeline's builders have pushed back a proposed construction completion date to the end of 2016.
A pipeline spokeswoman, Sara Delgado, said in an email that Bluegrass Pipeline also has withdrawn its permit applications filed at Corps offices in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, covering other sections of the proposed pipeline. She said the company plans to resubmit its analysis and application.
Environmentalists said in response to the released documents that the construction would cause lasting damage to the water bodies.
"For anyone to say 'no permanent impact' is simply ludicrous," said Judy Peterson, executive director of Kentucky Waterways Alliance.
All those water bodies and wetlands would have pipeline buried underneath, she said, "that could presumably leak or need to be maintained.
The maps show the company would bore under the Ohio River from Ohio, with the pipeline entering Kentucky northwest of Bradfork, in Bracken County.
According to the permit, the builders are planning to use open-cut trenching with equipment such as backhoes and drag lines to cross most of the small streams. In other cases, they would divert the flowing water around the pipeline crossing to dig or use directional boring to avoid surface impacts.
Last month, a Franklin Circuit judge ruled that the pipeline company does not have the legal authority to condemn land to pipe natural gas liquids across Kentucky. A bill that would have blocked the company from using eminent domain failed in the General Assembly this year.
Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com