Texas Authorities 'Neutralize' Suspicious Package Near Pipeline Construction Site

HOUSTON (Reuters) — Authorities on Tuesday removed a suspicious package at a site in rural Texas where Kinder Morgan Inc is building a controversial energy pipeline through wetlands.

The $2.3 billion pipeline project has faced challenges from local officials and environmentalists opposed to its path through sensitive wetlands and areas occupied by endangered species. Crews drilling under a river earlier this year hit an open area underground, spilling fracking fluid that tainted drinking water.

Contractors building a section of the 428-mile (689 km) Permian Highway natural gas pipeline in Blanco County, Texas, discovered a wrapped package early on Tuesday, halted work and contacted authorities, officials said. 

State and federal agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded.

A bomb squad "neutralized" a wrapped package found at the scene, said Sergeant Deon Cockrell of the Texas Department of Public Safety. There was no immediate indication what the package contained or whether it was dangerous, he said.

Police closed off the site as emergency workers took over the area. Kinder Morgan referred questions to state authorities. Cockrell did not have details on how the package was deemed to be suspicious, how it was isolated or removed. An investigation is underway, he said. 

When complete next year, the pipeline would carry 2.1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas from West Texas to the U.S. Gulf Coast. It is owned by Kinder Morgan, Exxon Mobil, Altus Midstream and Blackstone Group's EagleClaw Midstream Ventures.

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