Park service removed 1880s pipeline along Musconetcong River

4 mins read

LEBANON TWP (NPS) —The National Park Service (NPS) and officials from Chevron Environmental Management Company (Chevron), the Musconetcong River Management Council (MRMC), and the Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) announced the removal of remnants of nine old oil pipelines from the Wild and Scenic Musconetcong River. 

Investigating complaints of pipelines protruding from the river bottom, the MWA and the NPS found that in low flows, the pipelines could come into contact with the bottoms of canoes and kayaks. Working with Chevron, it was determined the pipelines were no longer in useand had been filled with cement and capped. The pipelines, some dating to the 1880s, are believed to be some of the oldest petroleum pipelines in the United States. While the pipelines posed no pollution threat to the river, they remained a navigational impediment for paddlers.

“The National Park Service Wild and Scenic Rivers program seeks to protect and enhance river resources across the nation. We appreciate the work of our river partners to help improve the recreational and ecological quality of the Wild and Scenic Musconetcong River and are excited for the paddling community to enjoy this exceptional river without these obstacles, ,” said NPS River Manager Paul Kenney.

In 2020, Chevron presented a proposed plan to carry out the project safely. Last year, the NPS, MWA, MRMC and Chevron formed a committee to coordinate the removal of the pipelines. All plans and permits were approved, but rain conditions and increased river flow made it difficult to remove the pipelines from the river as originally planned. Last month, Chevron successfully finished the removal of the pipelines via land on either side of the Musconetcong. This clever adaptation resulted in little disturbance to the riverbed. 

“The protection of people and the environment is our highest priority at Chevron, and this voluntary project is a clear example of our values in action,” said Henry Stremlau, Operations Portfolio Manager at Chevron. “Through our strong partnership with MWA, NPS, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, we have enhanced this Wild & Scenic River for the enjoyment of all Musconetcong enthusiasts.”

“MWA was glad to be able to partner with Chevron on this project that supports our mission of protecting and improving water quality, habitat and recreational access in the Musconetcong River,” stated MWA Executive Director Cindy Joerger. “Our partnership with the National Park Service to preserve the outstandingly remarkable values of this Wild & Scenic River has written many success stories over the past 15 years; this is just the most recent chapter!”

The pipelines were safely removed without needing to install an aqua barrier in the river, which reduced soil disturbance by 60% of the permitted amount. Additionally, Chevron planted over one thousand trees and shrubs, and disturbed areas were covered with topsoil and hydroseeded. The Lebanon Township Museum will feature a piece of iron pipe in an exhibit.