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Corps of Engineers Orders Algonquin to Properly Bury HubLine in Several Locations

Corps of Engineers Orders Algonquin to Properly Bury HubLine in Several Locations

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) has ordered Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC to fix a number of locations along the HubLine pipeline that weren't buried deep enough in the sub-sea floor of Massachusetts Bay.

It has directed the pipeline to put more cover over the offshore Hubline pipe, which went into operation a year ago, in eight locations to prevent a ship's anchor from rupturing the pipe. But the Corps will allow 13 other locations of the HubLine pipe, which also were identified as insufficiently buried or covered, to remain as is because environmental groups fear that any activity would do more damage than good.

Algonquin, a Duke Energy pipeline, intends to pile mounds of rocks over the exposed sections, said spokesman John Sheridan, who added that less than 1% of the HubLine system was affected. The pipeline plans to complete the repairs by the end of the year, and it's unlikely that it will have any affect on operations, he noted. HubLine will be closely monitored over a three-year period to ensure that the ecosystem returns.

Algonquin brought the matter to the attention of the ACOE in late August when it sought an amended permit to dredge and place fill material in 21 separate locations where HubLine failed to conform to its permit requirements.

The Duke Energy pipeline identified four locations where the HubLine pipe was not placed at the burial depth required by the permit, and 17 other locations where the pipeline, while buried at the correct depth, did not have the minimum depth of cover over the line.

Algonquin at the time requested that it be permitted to place fill material to cover the HubLine pipe at four locations, but that the ACOE accept the remaining 17 locations in their current condition.

The ACOE believes its decision accepting 13 locations was a "good compromise" with Algonguin, Ted Lento, the ACOE's project manager for HubLine, told the Boston Globe in its last Wednesday edition.

The HubLine project was part of an integrated expansion with Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline to bring more Atlantic Canadian natural gas to the Boston and southeastern Massachusetts area. The 29-mile, 30-inch diameter line, which extends from Beverly to Weymouth in Massachusetts, is the longest undersea gas line in New England and the first in Massachusetts Bay, the newspaper noted. It went into operation in November 2003.

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