The Public Utilities Commission is hiring an independent expert to assess the burial depths at several locations along a half-mile section of the Addison Natural Gas Project pipeline.
In June, Vermont Gas told the PUC that swampy ground prevented them from burying parts of pipeline at the depth required by their certificate of public good.
Rachel Smolker is a member of Protect Greprags Park, a group that has raised safety concerns over the construction of the pipeline. The group had asked the PUC to bring in an independent investigator.
“I think it shows that the Public Utilities Commission is starting to get the picture that this needs an independent eye and we cannot just count on Vermont Gas to certify that everything is just hunky dory,” Smolker says.
Beth Parent, a spokesperson for Vermont Gas, said the pipeline has been constructed safely.
“We've provided extensive documentation to the Public Utility Commission that shows that the Addison Natural Gas Project has been constructed safely,” Parent says. “We plan on working with the PUC's independent expert to ensure that they have all the information they need to resolve this matter efficiently.”
According to the PUC, the cost of the independent expert will be billed to Vermont Gas and the report will be filed “as soon as practicable but that will depend on the weather and the availability of a qualified expert.”