Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline is a Nuisance in Lancaster County PA

by Duane Nichols on December 30, 2017

Lancaster County PA is southeast of Harrisburg PA

‘It’s just constant’: Atlantic Sunrise pipeline company ordered to fix noise, lighting problems in Manor Twp.

From an Article by Ad Crable, Lancaster Online, December 19, 2017

“The bottom line is the quality of life is being affected,” says Ed Burns, a retiree who pulls down the blinds and turns up the television to try to keep the intrusions out of his home.

Since November 28th, residents of about 10 homes near Safe Harbor have had an unwelcome front-row seat to a six-day-a-week, all-night unusual work zone: near-constant drilling under the Conestoga River as part of the Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline. Drilling on a lesser scale began in early October.

And now the residents know their complaints of quality-of-life disruptions have not fallen on deaf ears.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission told LNP on Monday that after resident complaints, a FERC compliance monitor in the last few days confirmed there are indeed noise and lighting problems.

The pipeline builder has been ordered to “look into ways to mitigate the situation so the public will not be inconvenienced,” said Tamara Young-Allen, a FERC spokeswoman.

“We’re sorry for the inconvenience.” Corrective measures will have to be “performance-based,” she said.

Company’s statement

When contacted by LNP, pipeline builder Williams acknowledged the FERC order and issued this statement:

“We have been in contact with two landowners who have expressed concerns recently related to noise or other issues associated with our horizontal drilling operation near the Conestoga River.

“Our, Land, Engineering and Construction teams are coordinating with FERC to ensure any landowner issues are resolved in a prompt and appropriate manner.”

To make way for the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline, contractors for the Transcontinental Pipe Line are slowly boring under the Conestoga River simultaneously from both sides of the waterway.

One drilling operation is based on a 107-acre farm in Conestoga Township that Oklahoma-based Williams Partners purchased for $2.8 million. Transco is a subsidiary of Williams.

But on the west side of the river, boring is going on nearly non-stop in a farm field that is ringed by houses that sit on higher ground.

Headaches and lost sleep

In addition to complaints about trouble sleeping and a constant hum, some residents worry about cracks to the foundations and walls of their old homes and contamination of wells.

One resident, Troy Thorne, said vibrations have given him headaches. “The noise you can deal with,” Thorne said. “When the vibrations start, it runs you out of the house. You can feel it in your inner ear. It just kind of makes you feel weird.”

“The noise you can deal with. When the vibrations start, it runs you out of the house.”

For his wife, the noise is the foremost disturbance. “It is just horrible,” she said. “It’s just constant.”

She said the family keeps fans turned on to provide white noise in the bedrooms of their three children. Their son was home from college Saturday night and complained that he only got three hours of sleep, she added.

Payments and relocations?

As a result of residents’ complaints, Williams told FERC last week in its weekly summary of pipeline construction that it was investigating new ways to address noise levels at the site, including paying homeowners for the disturbances and offering to relocate them until the drilling is finished.

The company said it had installed a sound wall and baffles on equipment on Oct. 24. Two noise readings by the company taken on December 9th were below the 55-decibel action reading, but one from the front door of a home on Witmer Road was 70.2 decibels.

Seventy decibels is akin to the sound of a vacuum cleaner.

Thorne has taken readings from a cell phone app and has recorded a high of 77 decibels from the road in front of the family’s home. That level is equivalent to the sound of a passenger car going 65 mph as heard from a distance of 25 feet.

Pans on the kitchen wall tap each other and rattle from vibrations given off by the drilling under the earth, says Cynthia Heiland. To block out the noise, she sleeps with ear plugs, but that has created a new problem as she can’t hear the alarm clock.

“And they’re not even drilling with the largest drill yet,” she says. “It could get worse.”

Lack of information

“We didn’t know this was going to be this intense,” adds a woman who lives on Safe Harbor Road and did not want her name used.

All the residents interviewed complained that no one ever approached them to inform them of the impending drilling or what to expect.

“No one has ever come over here to say here’s what we’re doing. There’s no transparency,” said Ed Burns.

“We didn’t know this was going to be this intense.”

Residents said they have complained to Williams, Manor Township officials, FERC and a state legislator, but without noticeable results.

Ryan Strohecker, Manor Township manager, said he checked the township noise ordinance and found that utilities are exempt. He said jurisdiction with the drilling lies with FERC and the pipeline builder.

The drilling under the Conestoga is expected to be complete in early 2018, Williams said.

The $3 billion, 197-mile pipeline is scheduled to be completed in July 2018. About 37 miles of the project run through western and southern Lancaster County.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Cynthia Heiland December 30, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Williams Partners should meet residents halfway

Letter to Lancaster Online, December 28, 2017

We would like to thank Ad Crable for his excellent Dec. 19 article regarding the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project (“Bad vibrations”). He brought to the forefront many issues that the residents of Witmer Road in Conestoga have been dealing with for months. Our displeasure has increased tenfold since Williams Partners started drilling around-the-clock.

Despite our personal views on the pipeline, we realize it has the necessary approval of both federal (Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) and state (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection) agencies and will be moving forward. However, I don’t think any of us expected to be subjected to drills operating day and night. Our once-beautiful and previously tranquil community has been turned into a hub of noisy construction activity and constant truck traffic rumbling through our rural streets. Needless to say, our quality of life has been greatly compromised.

We would just ask if Williams could meet us halfway. Its solution of monetary compensation or relocating residents is not a viable answer. Money cannot buy the peace and quiet this community provided for us. Why should we be forced to relocate? Is Williams going to put us up at the Hotel Hershey?

A better solution might be to place an additional sound barrier that faces the direction of where the majority of homes are located on Witmer Road. The existing one faces in the opposite direction. Also, if overnight work is really necessary, perhaps the lights can be dimmed or turned in another direction so they don’t shine directly into our homes.

In conclusion, our sincerest thanks for the informative article. In a time when the media is frequently maligned for its reporting, it is good to see responsible journalism at work benefiting the community as a whole.

Cynthia Heiland and Ed Burns

Conestoga, Lancaster Co., PA


Brian Resh December 31, 2017 at 12:05 am

Pipeline’s been a sham from the beginning

Letter to Lancaster Online, December 30, 2017

My blood is boiling after reading “Bad vibrations” in the December 19th issue. The article details the noise problems for some residents of Manor Township caused by nonstop drilling under the Conestoga River for the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has ordered the pipeline builder to “look into ways to mitigate the situation.” That’s fantastic. It is kind of like of ordering me to look into buying a Ferrari. It’s just not going to happen.

FERC has the same problem that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does. It is charged with regulating an industry while simultaneously promoting it. I have an idea for FERC: Do your job, and regulate this travesty. Order Williams to stop construction at night so these people can get some sleep.

I honestly don’t expect Williams or FERC to do anything. The Atlantic Sunrise pipeline has been a sham from the beginning. We were told the natural gas would not be exported — it is all being exported. We were told the project would create high-paid, local jobs — it hasn’t. All the license plates on workers’ vehicles that I have seen are from out of state. We were told the project is about American energy independence — it’s not. It is all about who will pay the most for natural gas.

Fifty years from now, when the natural gas runs out, residents in the Marcellus Shale are left with toxic groundwater and the pipeline is a useless hulk rotting underground, you can be sure none of the companies responsible for it will still be around. They will take their money and run. And the public that is left to deal with this mess? No one will care about them. They got fracked in more ways than one.

Brian Resh

Martic Township


Joe Perebzak December 31, 2017 at 9:21 pm

Brian, I agree with everything you wrote, they do not care if the noise, lights and vibrations enter these homes.

These energy CEO’s do not live there so they do not care.

These people have no conscience and respect for landowners.

We live it here everyday and night in the heart of shale well drilling.

Joe Perebzak, Eastern Ohio Shale Country


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