Restoring Terrain Along REX East Pipeline Route

June 2010 Vol. 237 No. 6

Whether it’s the rugged slopes of the Rockies, or the highly erosive, silt loam soil in Mississippi, Profile Products LLC says it offers effective solutions for pipeline construction and restoration projects. Utilizing a total approach to vegetative establishment, Profile® focuses on Green Design Engineering™ as the foundation to provide innovative products and trusted project consultation and execution.

Pipeline projects are not only some of the most difficult projects to complete, they are intensely scrutinized to ensure minimal environmental impact. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulations change rapidly, and restoration experts must understand FERC and U.S. Environment Protection Agency compliance, quick vegetation establishment, on-site erosion control management and risk reduction. Also, products must be environmentally friendly and not hazardous to wildlife.

Contractors understand they must completely restore pipeline right-of-ways, including those that cross portions of farms and ranches, to as close to pre-existing conditions as possible. With some minimal restrictions, the land is often used as it was prior to construction. Providing a quick vegetative solution that works well is critical to FERC pipeline restoration approval.

Innovative Pipeline Solutions
As the world’s largest supplier of hydraulically applied erosion control and vegetative establishment products, Profile offers a broad range of solutions to a broad range of pipeline restoration challenges. All solutions are driven by a process the company calls Green Design Engineering.

Green Design Engineering creates cost-effective, environmentally superior solutions through the design, manufacture and application of sustainable erosion control and vegetation establishment technologies. By utilizing this type of engineering, contractors can achieve sustainable erosion control that is effective on harsh soil conditions and environmentally sensitive slopes and channels.

As one recent example illustrates, Profile’s team worked with officials to restore vegetation on hundreds of acres along the Rockies Express Pipeline (REX) East in Indiana and Ohio.

Preventing Rolling Hill Erosion
The clay and rocky terrain along the REX East pipeline presented many restoration challenges from transporting water to the location, to terrain application issues.

In Indiana, contractors had to restore a 40-acre section of pipeline and selected a straw mulch to hold soil in place, but it wasn’t effective.

“We initially tried straw mulch on the Indiana portion, but it was washing and diverting,” said Kelsey Thomas, project engineer for Price Gregory, the general contracting company overseeing construction and restoration for REX. “We had to find a better product and chose Seed Aide Aero as the permanent vegetation solution.”

Made from recycled paper and wood fibers, Seed Aide® Aero™ is used as a temporary or permanent solution to keep soil in place, increase moisture retention and promote vegetation establishment. Application is flexible-enabling aerial, hydraulic, use of a high-volume drop spreader, large-opening broadcast spreader or application by hand. The ability to apply this product wet or dry makes it ideal when it’s difficult or impossible to transfer water on-site.

The Indiana site restoration application began in the middle of winter, not an ideal time to establish vegetation. First, a regional seed mixed with fertilizer was applied to the area and followed with Seed Aide Aero.

Using broadcast spreaders on the back of tractors, workers put 500 pounds of product in the machine and a broadcast wheel dispersed it 40-50 feet. The machine was filled every 10 minutes until the area was covered with a total of 70 tons of product.

Following site restoration in Indiana, Price Gregory worked to restore land near Cambridge, OH. This stretch of the REX pipeline route was a much larger area with rough terrain requiring some aerial application. REX contractors initially applied straw mulch on the first two to three miles of land–but again it didn’t hold, washing onto the terraces causing an erosion control problem.

Thomas added, “We applied Seed Aide Aero to the remaining 550 acres and it prevented the stormwater diversion berms from stopping up. Straw was building up and we had erosion, but use of this product eliminated the problem.”

The 30-mile Ohio swath was slightly wider, ranging from 150 feet to 200 feet or better, depending on permanent or temporary property easements. FERC regulations mandate that contractors can’t change elevations and take out hills–they have to leave the land as rough as they found it.

The REX Ohio pipeline included a stretch of about 20 acres of very steep, wet ground in which equipment couldn’t traverse. Engineers decided to apply the product via helicopter. Covering the 20 acres of land required a full day of helicopter drops, as well as a few hours of drops the following day. Specified at 3,000 pounds of product per acre, every three to four minutes workers would load the hopper in the staging area, fly to the drop zone and deploy Seed Aide Aero. Then, they would return to the staging area for a subsequent drop with each run covering about 11,600 square feet of ground.

“Seed Aide Aero is very attractive for pipeline projects, especially for aerial application,” said Andy Constantine, CPESC, market development manager for Profile Products LLC. “It chemically bonds to the soil without having to haul or pump in water. It’s not only versatile, but highly effective.”

Erosion Control Pipeline Specialists
With new sources of natural gas readily available in the U.S., many experts predict demand for natural gas will increase more than 50% by 2020. This will require erosion-control experts that are also pipeline restoration specialists.

Said Profile’s Vice President of Erosion Control Solutions, Marc S. Theisen, M.S., CPESC, CPSWQ, “As natural gas pipeline construction continues and the U.S. transitions to cleaner energy technologies, our ability to stabilize the soil surface and provide ideal growing conditions in highly sensitive environmental areas is very conducive to pipeline construction and restoration.”