Facebook held a public meeting Friday, Oct. 2, to update the community of Tierra Del Mar on the Jupiter cable project.
Kevin Salvadori, director of Network Investments at Facebook, said Facebook would be a part of the Tillamook County community for a long period of time. He spoke about the April incident when the drill hit hard rock and the drill bit broke.
Nikki Payne of Environmental Resources Management (ERM) said an independent hazard analysis was prepared regarding the drill break in order to evaluate agency and the public’s questions and requests. A local geologist also conducted a site visit.
“We also independently verified the depth of materials based on our own review of the telemetric data that was recorded over the drilling activity,” Payne said. “We also reviewed the mud report.”
With this info, ERM conducted a toxicology analysis, Payne added. They also assessed the potential impacts of the remaining materials.
“This type of equipment is commonly used for utility projects, both on and offshore,” Payne said of Horizontal Direction Drilling (HDD). “In the subsea cable industry, this equipment is used to install bore pipes in which cables are brought to shore for connectivity purposes.”
The bore pipe is installed at an angle. In this case, the desired depth was 70 feet, which was where most of the pipe was at when the break occurred. Drillers were able to retrieve the bore pipe and 240 feet of steel bore casing.
Payne said there are currently no adverse, environmental, scenic, recreational or economic impacts resulting from the drill break and presence of remaining materials, which are 50-70 feet below the seafloor. Recovery options included HDD drilling and dredging.
For dredging, in order to remove the materials, a barge crane would need to excavate the seafloor to that depth, Payne added. A diver with a rock hammer would attempt to remove the drill bit. The activity would take at least two months.
“Regarding the option of using HDD recovery, this would require drilling on the exact drill path that was drilled earlier this year and attempting to hit a 6 inch target from 500 feet away,” Payne said. “The drilling company called this nearly impossible.”
According to the analysis, the potential recovery options would be infeasible.
“Based on input from the community, we’re working with a local landscaping company and will restore Lot 3200 using native plants that are wind-tolerant and erosion-controlling,” Salvadori said. “It should look more beautiful than it has in years.”
Salvadori said Facebook’s intent is to resume construction in January.
Payne said ERM were provided telemetric data from the project. For this project, there is a mud engineer and ERM has reviewed all of the mud reports from the start of the project.
Facebook reported the drill break to the county within a week of the incident, Salvadori said. He said they could have done a better job communicating the incident more broadly but wanted to do a proper analysis first.
ERM’s report concludes that mud is not migrating from the seafloor. There was no evidence of release that would have warranted immediate monitoring.
The Tillamook County Board of Commissioners approved a restrictive covenant on Sept. 23. This prohibits the installation of future subsea cables on the residential site.
The Oregon Department of State Lands has opened a public review and comment period for Edge Cable Holdings LLC’s, a subcontractor for Facebook, encroachment easement application. The easement would allow the abandoned equipment to remain beneath the seafloor. The equipment includes 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.
The public review and comment period closes at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5. Comments must be received by this day and time to be considered. Comments may be submitted:
By email to Blake Helm, firstname.lastname@example.org
By postal mail to WWC Comments, Oregon Department of State Lands, 775 Summer St. N.E., Ste 100, Salem, OR 97301