Rover Pipeline can resume boring under the Tuscarawas River in Stark County as long as it samples groundwater near the work site.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave Rover the go-ahead Tuesday, almost two weeks after ordering the company to stop boring and submit additional information on how it planned to control drilling fluid loss as it crossed the river in Bethlehem Township with a second mainline.
Rover told FERC it would sample water from nearby residential wells and monitoring wells before, during and after boring to confirm they haven’t been contaminated by clay-based drilling fluid.
If residential wells are contaminated, Rover has told FERC it would install a temporary source of drinking water and a new well, if warranted.
Texas-based Energy Transfer is building the $4.2 billion Rover Pipeline, which will carry 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day from the Utica and Marcellus shales to markets in Canada and the United States.
The part that crosses Stark, Carroll, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties includes twin 42-inch diameter mainlines.
Rover spokeswoman Alexis Daniel, in an email, wrote that the company was pleased with FERC’s decision and would follow plans approved by the commission. The pipeline is more than 99 percent complete and one mainline already is in use.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency asked FERC last month to make Rover abandon the current river crossing after workers failed to stop the underground loss of drilling fluid.
State regulators had not reported fluid leaking to the surface or contaminating private water wells, but said the underground loss of 200,000 gallons of drilling fluid put a nearby wetland and groundwater at risk.
In April, 2 million gallons of drilling fluid pumped underground surfaced in a wetland next to the Tuscarawas River during construction of the first mainline crossing.
Ohio EPA issued a statement Tuesday.
"We are again disappointed with FERC and their lack of consultation with Ohio on this most recent decision," it read.
"States need FERC to be a trusted partner in making sure these interstate projects are protective of human health and the environment. FERC is allowing Rover to drill under the Tuscarawas River knowing they will continue losing excessive drilling fluid and threatening the environment."
This story was updated at 6:36 p.m.