The Cost of Horizontal Directional Drilling

Horizontal Directional Drilling, or HDD, is sold by pipeline companies as a panacea for a host of problems with pipeline routes.  Usually natural gas pipelines are built by trenching down in the ground 6-9 feet deep, then covering up the pipe once it’s installed.  HDD involves drilling a bore hole under ground instead, and then either pulling or pushing the pipe through that.  The upside is there’s no trench and no need to clear cut.  The downside is that it’s often very difficult to do, its success depends upon geology, and when it fails it can be very, very bad indeed.  Plus, there is a very large construction impact at the entry/exit points where the HDD enters/exits the ground.

One such spot is Carla Kelly-Mackey’s farm on Sanford Road in Delaware Township.  Carla is a member of HALT PennEast, and has been staunchly against the project from the beginning.  As route change after route change has come it has danced slightly all around her farm.  With the most recent route change, her front door is now proposed to be home to an HDD construction pad.

Here are the latest plans for her farm:


As you can see, they plan on using her driveway as a construction access road, and then staging the HDD site across her driveway and in her front yard.  Here’s what it looks like in Google Earth:


I used the Google Earth measuring tool to check the distance from the construction zone to her house – as you can see it’s less than 50 feet!

The “road” they’ll be using:


Now what will all this HDD construction look like?  We don’t know for sure yet, but here’s a sample of a 36″ pipe being HDD’d down in Florida:

In that case of that project, the construction crew worked 24/7 to get the job done (it was blocking a freeway express ramp). Working non stop day and night it took 10 days to complete the HDD installation. They used something called a “300-ton Herrenknecht Pipe Thruster” to get the job done.  Hopefully PennEast will not be banging on that pipe in three in the morning, so who knows how long this job will take?  According to the HDD plans they will be boring and pushing/pulling for around half a mile…..

Imagine THAT in your driveway and 50 feet from your front door.

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Mike Spille

I'm a thinker, an analyzer, a synthesizer. Maybe not in that order. I live in West Amwell NJ with my wife Kristina, our two kids Day and Z, our two dogs Fern and Cinna, and three cats Ponce de Leon, Oliver, and Doolittle.

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