TIERRA DEL MAR — The Oregon Department of State Lands announced Friday, Sept. 11, that they have decided to have Facebook’s hazard analysis, conducted by ERM-West, Inc. and peer reviewed by Geosyntec Consultants, Inc., independently reviewed. The analysis was prepared in response to the drill break that occurred on April 28, during the drilling operation for the Jupiter subsea cable system in Tierra Del Mar, southwest of Tillamook.
“We don’t yet know who will do that, so no ETA yet on when we may accept the analysis as final,” DSL Communications Manager Ali Ryan Hansen said of the independent review.
Edge Cable Holdings, LLC, a subcontractor of Facebook, notified the Oregon Department of State Lands on April 28 of the snapped drill pipe, which was being replaced at a depth that ranged from 50-70 feet. Approximately 1,100 feet of drill pipe, a drill tip, two tools for drill steering and tracking, and approximately 6,500 gallons of drilling fluid were abandoned in the ocean.
“It was a very unusual event,” said Kevin Salvadori, director of Network Investments at Facebook.
Salvadori said when the incident occurred, the team recovered as much as they could.
DSL had requested that Edge Cable provide an analysis of potential health, safety and environmental impacts due to the presence of the equipment, as well as a geotechnical survey. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department also required Edge Cable to provide an independent hazard analysis, evaluating potential impacts to the economic, scenic and recreational values of the ocean shore.
After consulting with relevant state agencies, Tillamook County and the Army Corps of Engineers, Facebook commissioned an independent hazard study conducted by ERM-West, Inc. and peer reviewed by Geosyntec Consultants, Inc.
Nikki Payne, from ERM, said the study was conducted and analyzed by a team, including a toxicologist and local geologist. The team analyzed the current situation.
According to the hazard analysis, “there are currently no adverse environmental, scenic, recreational or economic impacts resulting from the drill break or presence of remaining materials to the surrounding environment and result in future impacts.”
Kevin Salvadori, director of Network Investments at Facebook, said in a previous article that when the incident occurred, the team recovered as much as they could.
In August, DSL notified Edge Cable Holdings LLC of actions needed to comply with the terms of their communications cable easement agreement. Abandonment of equipment following a drill pipe break resulted in Edge Cable effectively storing equipment under the Oregon seafloor, which was not allowed under their easement agreement.
DSL stated in an update that DSL and Edge Cable have agreed on an amendment to the easement agreement. The amendment includes: a $250,000 payment to DSL; increasing the required surety bond from $20,000 to $100,000; notice requirement for any future breaks or accidents; and providing DSL with plans for drill break avoidance and response, as well as a cable construction plan.
Edge Cable intends to submit an application for an encroachment easement, DSL added. An encroachment easement would allow the abandoned equipment to remain beneath the seafloor.
“When received, the application will be reviewed by DSL staff for completeness,” DSL said. “If the application is determined to be complete, it will be circulated for review and comment.”
Trevor Taylor, stewardship section manager for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, said during an OPRD commission meeting Wednesday, Sept. 16, that at this point, both DSL and OPRD are coordinating a response to the drill break. Edge Cable’s permit with OPRD remains valid at this time.
Edge Cable is also requesting to drill a new bore hole, Taylor added.
“We’re requesting updated plans that the new bore hole will be in a different location,” Taylor said. “They’re proposing it be directly below the existing bore hole.”
Taylor said OPRD is preparing comments on Edge Cable’s analysis, as they were some missing key elements. There is also a potential lawsuit Oregon Coast Alliance is pursuing under the Clean Waters Act.
“There is nothing rescinding our permit currently,” Taylor said. “It’s in place and there’s nothing they’ve done that technically violates it, other than if there is a hazard associated with the project, we would need to respond to that, including the potential for a hazard.”
OPRD will be working with Edge on that front, Taylor added.
Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org