Law­suits al­lege dam­age from pipe­line

Dayton Daily News - - LOCAL & STATE - By Shane Hoover

Sev­eral landown­ers along the Nexus pipe­line have sued the pipe­line’s owner and its con­struc­tion con­trac­tor, say­ing the com­pa­nies broke agree­ments to pro­tect and re­store prop­er­ties af­fected by the pro­ject.

Michael Thomp­son, the Jack­son Town­ship at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing the landown­ers, has filed a dozen law­suits in Stark, Sum­mit, Wayne and Columbiana coun­ties in the last cou­ple of weeks against Nexus Gas Trans­mis­sion and Michels Corp.

Nexus is a $2.1 bil­lion pipe­line backed by Detroit-based DTE En­ergy and En­bridge, a Cana­dian com­pany. Michels Corp. is a con­struc­tion firm in Wis­con­sin.

The 36-inch di­am­e­ter pipe­line can carry up to 1.5 bil­lion cu­bic feet of nat­u­ral gas a day from the Utica and Mar­cel­lus shales to users in Ohio, Michi­gan and Canada.

Thomp­son said the goals of the law­suits are twofold: “One, to hold [Nexus and Michels] ac­count­able for spe­cific dam­ages that they’ve caused, and, two, so that in the fu­ture, a mes­sage is given to them that they can’t just do what they want and tram­ple on the rights of the prop­erty owners.”

Nexus spokesman Adam Parker said in an email the com­pany “doesn’t com­ment on pend­ing law­suits, but pro­ject representatives have been com­mu­ni­cat­ing with landown­ers for four years.

“Great ef­fort has been taken to ad­dress in­di­vid­ual landowner con­cerns and min­i­mize dis­rup­tion dur­ing the con­struc­tion process,” Parker wrote.

Al­le­ga­tions out­lined

The law­suits seek dam­ages in ex­cess of $25,000, as well as at­tor­ney fees, from Nexus and Michels.

The law­suits al­lege Nexus and Michels:

■ Pumped thou­sands of gal­lons of wa­ter and silt onto farms and res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties with­out per­mis­sion from the owners, in one case dam­ag­ing a pond in Green.

■ De­stroyed top­soil and crops on farms in Stark and Columbiana coun­ties.

■ Failed to re­pair dam­aged drain tiles and prop­erly re­claim land.

■ Caused farm­ers to lose crops and pre­vented some landown­ers from us­ing their prop­er­ties.

■ Failed to control ero­sion, in one case lead­ing to a 200-foot-long ditch on a Wash­ing­ton Town­ship farm that was as deep as 3 feet.

■ Di­verted sur­face wa­ter onto prop­er­ties near the pipe­line, in­clud­ing sev­eral res­i­dences near Doylestown in Wayne County and a prop­erty in New Franklin in Sum­mit County.

“Those peo­ple never got a penny out of the pipe­line right-of-way and they’ve had to live with the dam­age, and the pipe­line isn’t even on their prop­erty,” Thomp­son said of his clients.

Cen­tral Land Con­sult­ing has mon­i­tored pipe­line work on the prop­er­ties named in the law­suits.

Don­ald and Pa­tri­cia Day of Green are among the landown­ers who have filed a law­suit al­leg­ing the pipe­line pro­ject dam­aged their prop­erty.

In their suit, filed late last month in Sum­mit County Com­mon Pleas Court, the cou­ple say their pond and wet­lands were harmed and drive­way was blocked by ex­ces­sive wa­ter runoff dur­ing the pipe­line con­struc­tion.

“We’ve lived here 23 years. We built this prop­erty, we dug this lake and ev­ery­thing was beau­ti­ful,” Don­ald Day told the Bea­con Jour­nal in July. “They’ve come in here and put dirty wa­ter in my lake. ”

Restora­tion on hold

Nexus was “com­mit­ted to safe and en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble prac­tices,” in­clud­ing the use of in­spec­tors, to “pro­tect top­soil and to min­i­mize ero­sion and sed­i­men­ta­tion dur­ing and af­ter con­struc­tion,” Parker wrote.

Nexus runs 255 miles from Hanover­ton in Columbiana County to Michi­gan, but restora­tion work along the route has paused for the win­ter. In­spec­tors will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the right-of-way and restora­tion will re­sume next year when soil con­di­tions im­prove, Parker wrote.

BOB ROS­SITER / GATE­HOUSE

In­stal­la­tion of the Nexus pipe­line along May­fair Road in Green is shown in July.

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