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Facebook has released its environmental report on the drilling accident of the Jupiter Cable System project in Tierra Del Mar. According to the analysis, the recommended action is to leave the materials in place.

Edge Cable Holdings, LLC, a subcontractor of Facebook, notified the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) on April 28 of the snapped drill pipe, which was being replaced at a depth that ranged from 40-69 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.

Regarding recovery options, Payne said ERM spoke with several drilling companies, and found using HDD drilling to recover the remaining materials is a nonviable option given the low probability of success, as the drill bit would need to perfectly align with the 6-inch bore pipe 520 feet from the shore. The second option of dredging from the seafloor would result in extensive environmental impacts from sediment excavation, anchoring and using vessels and barges over a two-month period. The HDD drilling option was not be feasible or recommended.

ERM’s analysis concludes there are currently no adverse environmental, scenic, recreational or economic impacts resulting from the drill break or presence of remaining materials 50-70 feet below the sea floor, nor is there a reasonably conceived scenario, such as an earthquake or tsunami, that would expose the remaining materials to the surrounding environment and result in future impacts. For this reason, the recommended environmentally preferred alternative is to leave the remaining materials in place.

“We think that’s the best course of action,” Salvadori said.

Facebook and ERM made the environmental report public Tuesday, Sept. 1. Salvadori said Facebook would work with the relevant state agencies to confirm this is the right direction moving forward.

The team stated there is no imminent risks to the community by leaving the materials as they are.

“We look forward to engaging with the community moving forward,” Salvadori said.

Oregon Coast Alliance filed on Aug. 26 a Notice of Intent to sue Edge Cable Holdings under the Clean Waters Act, on or after the 60th day of the notice, in Oregon Federal District Court. The lawsuit will allege the Edge Cable has violated and remains in violation of the Clean Waters Act and will seek mandatory injunctive relief, requiring Edge Cable to comply with and pay civil penalties up to the amount of $55,800 per day, per violation.

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