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By sandbagger2
Risk Assessments for Releases from Highly Volatile Liquid Pipelines
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By sandbagger2
At their October 26, 2017 public meeting the PUC AFFIRMED Judge Barnes’ July 24, 2017 Decision and Order by a vote of 4-0. The PUC affirmation of Judge Barnes’ Decision and Order continues the halt of any installation of pipeline valves at the Boot Road site and prohibits the start of Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) in West Goshen Township until the PUC hears the Township’s Sunoco Mariner II case in April, 2018.
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By sandbagger2
Judge halts Mariner East 2 construction in West Goshen Township
JULY 25, 2017 | 10:06 AM

Mariner East 2 pipeline construction in Aston, Delaware County. Construction includes underground drilling along parts of the route. In Chester County, Sunoco's crews punctured an aquifer, leading to some residents having to drink bottled water and shower at hotels.
Mariner East 2 pipeline construction in Aston, Delaware County. Construction includes underground drilling along parts of the route. The PUC halted construction of the line in West Goshen Township after finding Sunoco misled township officials on where it was planning to build a valve station.
A judge ordered Sunoco Pipeline to stop work on installing a valve along the Mariner East 2 pipeline route in Chester County’s West Goshen Township, the first time a court has blocked any part of the controversial cross-state project.

Administrative law judge Elizabeth Barnes of the Public Utility Commission late Monday granted an interim emergency order sought by the township to halt construction of the valve and equipment associated with it until a full hearing of the PUC can determine the matter.

The judge ordered Sunoco to “cease and desist all current construction” including that of the valve and its “appurtenant facilities.” She also instructed the company to stop horizontal directional drilling on a private property that the township says is not covered by a 2015 settlement agreement on where a valve may be built.

The ruling is a response to a complaint filed by the township with the PUC in February, alleging that Sunoco violated the agreement, misled the township on where it planned to build a valve station, and exposed residents to “clear and present danger” if there was a leak, the township said then.

The construction ban will remain in place until the full PUC decides the case, Judge Barnes wrote in a 10-page ruling.

DEP issues few violations, one fine for Sunoco’s pipeline construction spills
DEP staffers warned superiors of dangers to private water wells from pipeline construction
Mariner East 2 construction has resulted in dozens of spills, documents show

Pipeline opponents hailed the order as a big win for communities along the 350-mile line that have been resisting the line because of safety concerns or because of Sunoco’s use of eminent domain to take land from landowners who have refused its offers of compensation.
“This is big news,” said Alex Bomstein, an attorney with the Clean Air Council, which is separately contesting Sunoco’s assertion that the Mariner project is a public utility. “Many people assume Sunoco is invulnerable and Mariner East 2 is inevitable. That has never been true, and this ruling proves it.”

Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields said he believes the ruling is temporary and automatically goes to the PUC. He said the company has seven days to present briefs and then the PUC has 30 days to decide the matter.

“We look forward to demonstrating to the Public Utility Commission how we have complied at all times with our agreement with West Goshen Township,” Shields said.

The ruling is the latest blow for the pipeline where drilling has recently caused dozens of cases of water contamination, and prompted state officials to issue four Notices of Violations, and imposed a consent decree on the company for spilling tens of thousands of gallons of drilling mud into an Exceptional Value wetland. The $2.5 billion project will carry natural gas liquids from the Marcellus Shale of southwest Pennsylvania to an export terminal at Marcus Hook near Philadelphia. Construction is due to be complete by the end of the third quarter but the latest court order raises more questions about whether that schedule can be met.

David Brooman, an attorney for the township, said the ruling halts all construction work on the pipeline in West Goshen.

“This order effectively directs Sunoco to stand down; to power down all construction activity in West Goshen,” he said.

In the upcoming case before the full PUC, the township will argue exactly what it argued before Judge Barnes, Brooman said, that Sunoco “willfully and flagrantly violated the June 2015 settlement agreement that it entered into with the township, and should be held to its promises.”

In her ruling, the judge said the township had met its legal burden in seeking the emergency order for a halt to construction.

To be granted such an order, a petitioner must show that its right to relief is clear; that the need for relief is immediate; that the injury would be irreparable if it were not granted, and that the relief would not hurt the public interest, the judge said.

She said the township’s complaint raised “substantial legal questions” including whether the agreement required Sunoco to construct above-ground facilities in a specific part of the township, and whether the company gave the township sufficient notice of its plans to move a valve on to a tract of private land.

The judge also determined that the need for relief was immediate because allowing Sunoco to go ahead with construction on one parcel of private land would prevent a development there that would have brought economic and tax benefits to the township. The developer pulled out of the project after Sunoco condemned the land, the judge said.

Barnes also referenced the risks of horizontal directional drilling, and the recent incidents in Chester County where drilling was halted after about 15 families had to stop drinking their well water.

“I find the injury would be irreparable if the injunctive relief is not granted,” she said.

The issue is essentially a contract dispute between Sunoco and the township. But it’s the first time the PUC has weighed in on anything having to do with the siting of the Mariner East 2 pipeline. Although the PUC has authority to grant public utility status to Sunoco, which it has done in this case, it does not have siting authority. Nor does any other federal or state entity.

The question remains whether or not the PUC will enforce the West Goshen contract, says eminent domain attorney Rich Raiders who represents landowners along the pipeline route.

“It’s significant because somebody in the PUC is actually trying to regulate the pipeline,” said Raiders.

He says no matter how the larger PUC body rules in this case, the loser will likely appeal to the Commonwealth Court.

Susan Phillips contributed to this report.
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By sandbagger2
FOLLOW THE LEADER: The Extreme Hazards of Delco's Single Party Politics
November 2, 2017
|Life-long Registered Republican

There is a big elephant in Delaware County. The county tried to do something great by attempting to revitalize the defunct Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook. They had an independent market study done to examine alternative uses for the industrial complex. The market study came back with options. The intentions were good.

The decision to repurpose Marcus Hook as a storage and export facility for so called Natural Gas Liquids absolutely required debate. It required independent technical input. However, with every decision maker along the route “in alignment”, little due diligence was done to consider something as basic as public safety.

As a result, the project was put on a set of rails without due diligence. No independent hazards assessment, no public safety risk quantification, no emergency planning assessment. These very basic analyses were not done. Why? Good question.

Delaware County is home to many high-tech companies with engineers and scientists. The hazards associated with liquefied gas infrastructure are so off-the-charts that someone with the right background would need about five minutes to assess them as unacceptable. In fact, the Government Accountability Office has been warning not to have artificially liquefied gas infrastructure anywhere near densely populated areas since 1978.

But how severe are the consequences? The county team (including the local governments) will tell you they don’t know. No one has done a hazards assessment at any level of government. One can only speculate that they haven’t done such an assessment because they already signed off on the project and knew they wouldn’t like the answers. Instead, each government entity has chosen to ask Energy Transfer Partners if it’s safe. Guess what the company that stands to make billions has to say about all this: “it’s safe.”

Pipeline industry regulator PHMSA’s guidelines for these materials clearly state a one-half mile evacuation radius. In Delaware County, the number of people (according to 2010 municipal census data) within such an evacuation zone can range from 500 to 3,000 people. This doesn’t include school populations that are within such an evacuation zone (there are more than a few). It is not realistic, or fair to our emergency crews, to assume an evacuation of this magnitude is possible. Not when the heavier-than-air gas cloud can migrate hundreds of feet per minute and ignite so quickly that people may have just a few minutes to evacuate, if any time at all.

So, the question is why? Why did the county choose not to have the hazards assessed? Why has every township along the route chosen not to have the hazards assessed? Why have all levels of government adopted the Sunoco marketing materials and public relations responses as fact without seeking unbiased input from an independent technical advocate?

The answer goes back to the big elephant in the county. The Republicans have owned Delaware County for decades just as the Democrats have owned Philadelphia. Too much of anything is not good. We need public discussion. We need ideas to be challenged. That does not happen when a single party runs the show. That kind of “alignment” disrupts the checks and balances that are supposed to be embedded in the structures of our government. Good debate that takes place between a diverse body of elected officials could have prevented bad ideas like Mariner East from getting started. Or at least led the idea in a different direction that considered the safety implications.

No one knows a locality better than the locals. When the state throws its weight around in a way that threatens people’s safety, it is the responsibility of the local governments to stand up and challenge. They are the voice for their locality. However, when all the townships in Delco have been politically “aligned”, no such challenge is made, or if it is, it is not very sincere.

Our local leaders have claimed impotence. They claim their hands are tied. At every single level. How can that be? Especially given the fact that the pipeline route has not been assessed for public safety AT ANY LEVEL. As a result, we have eminent domain granted by the state (decades ago, for a different project) now misused to construct a recklessly conceived hazard. We clearly have a violation of our constitutional right to public safety. Any other public infrastructure, yes, even utilities with eminent domain, must meet basic public safety requirements. Yet municipalities like Middletown that actually have zoning ordinances for pipeline setbacks have elected not to enforce them. Instead, private citizens are taking Energy Transfer Partners to court to enforce township zoning themselves.

This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans. Really, I could not care less. At the local level, the national party ideals are irrelevant. But you simply cannot have single party rule. When you do, local leaders do not stand up when we need them, even when given every single opportunity to do the right thing. Their hands are tied. Not by the system, but by their own “alignment.”

Single party control: It is not good in Philly. It is not good in Delco. It is not good anywhere. Vote accordingly.
Evacuation Zone.png
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By eriknben10
Who is the Big Donkey in Delaware County that penned that BS?
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By sandbagger2
Mariner East 2 pipeline completion delayed again
NOVEMBER 8, 2017 | 11:38 AM

A pipeline construction site in Jackson Township, Butler County, Pa. A recent ruling over a disputed valve station in Chester County has created more construction delays for the Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline.
Sunoco Pipeline’s parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, said Wednesday that its Mariner East 2 pipeline will be put into service in the second quarter of 2018, some 18 months later than originally planned, because of delays caused by Pennsylvania regulators.

Chief Financial Officer Tom Long said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call that the project has been held up in part by the Public Utility Commission’s recent ban on horizontal directional drilling at a location in Chester County’s West Goshen Township until the PUC hears a dispute between the township and Sunoco over the siting of a valve. The hearing is scheduled for April next year.

“We’re evaluating the relocation or elimination of this valve as well other alternatives that we believe will allow us to move forward with this portion of the project in the near future,” Long said in prepared remarks.

The controversial cross-state project has been beset with technical, environmental and regulatory challenges, and faces strong community opposition in some places from landowners and public-safety advocates.

When completed, the more than $2.5 billion pipeline is due to carry natural gas liquids from the Marcellus Shale of southwestern Pennsylvania to an export terminal at Marcus Hook near Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs ask judge to revoke ‘illegal’ Mariner East 2 permits
PUC’s West Goshen ruling cheers advocates for local control over pipelines
Pipeline blasting sprayed Lebanon County home with debris, and may have spread legacy pollution
Water problems persist along Mariner East pipeline route despite court intervention

Long said the main source of delay has been obtaining permission from the Department of Environmental Protection to restart horizontal directional drilling in dozens of locations where construction spilled drilling fluid and polluting some underground aquifers, leading to a court order that requires DEP approval for drilling to resume.
“We continue to work with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to secure approvals in order to move our remaining HDDs forward,” Long said.

“As a result of these delays, we believe that this will push our in-service timing for ME2 to the second quarter of 2018.”

But he said the company “continues to make progress” on construction, and that “99 percent” of the main pipeline will be in the ground by the end of 2017.

Several financial analysts on the call expressed concern about the delay to ME2 and asked whether the in-service date could slip further.

Asked by one analyst whether the natural gas liquids service into the Marcus Hook terminal would be impacted by the delays to construction, Chief Operating Officer Mackie McCrea said he was optimistic that the West Goshen issue would be resolved soon, and expressed hope that DEP will move quickly to allow the restart of drilling in the affected locations.

“We’re doing everything we can to work with PADEP to get all the HDDs completed on time,” McCrea said. “We do know now that we are probably going to slip into the second quarter, however we are going to do everything we can to bring it on line some time in the second quarter.”

Long said there is a great deal of natural gas liquids supply that will find overseas markets once Mariner East 2 starts operating.

“Once we get it in service, we couldn’t be more excited about the returns,” he said in answer to a question. “There is a tremendous amount of barrels that are there now and are going to be there in the future, and they are looking for a home. But we’ve got to get the project completed. We think Marcus Hook will be the best export, the largest in the country over the next two or three years. We think it will be the premium market around the world both in Europe and Asia for propane, ethane and butane.

“With the commitments that we have, we think there’s a tremendous amount of volume growth in volumes that will reach out to us as we bring the system on line,” he said.

And they got PUC status because it's for the good of the community? :evil: :evil: :evil:
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By sandbagger2

“Unlawful conduct”: Sunoco’s behavior leading up to the sinkhole
Date: November 17, 2017
Author: galex49

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a new Notice of Violation (NOV) on November 16 concerning the recent frac-out and sinkhole. (See “Backyard frac-out and sinkhole near Exton”).

The sinkhole was caused by drilling for the Dragonpipe (the Mariner East 2 pipeline), and it turns out it was only the final event in a series of problems there. The NOV document reveals aspects of this story that we didn’t know about up to now. It concludes that Sunoco acted unlawfully.

Once again, it turns out that Sunoco disregards the law whenever it is convenient, just as it recently did in Berks County (“Sunoco drills where it is not permitted, then covers up the resulting frac-out”).

Here is the chronology that led up to the sinkhole event caused by the drill site that the DEP refers to as HHD Site S-3-0400, as revealede by the NOV. The indented quotes are taken directly from the NOV.

August 18: The first signs of trouble. Sunoco has run into areas where the drilling mud is disappearing and not circulating back to the drill site as it should. This is referred to in the NOV as “loss of circulation”. This means that there is some sort of large gap or crack in the rock, and he drilling mud is going there. Mud under pressure is required to lubricate the drill bit. If the pressure can’t be maintained, forward progress will stop. The driller can try to use thicker mud to stop the leakage, but if the “void” is big enough, it won’t work and the hole must be abandoned. In our area, loss of circulation could well mean that the drill has hit an aquifer.

“Sunoco contacted the DEP and stated that, due to several losses of circulation the original pilot hole was going to be abandoned and grouted in and a new pilot hole was going to be drilled.”

August 24: The same problem occurs again.

“Sunoco reported loss of circulation at the site.”

Is this still happening at the same pilot hole, or has Sunoco started a new one and immediately run into trouble? It is not clear.

September 24: A local citizen reported speaking to a Sunoco crew who were walking the right-of-way and discussing a possible problem under the nearby railroad tracks, used by SEPTA and Amtrak.

“DEP received a complaint about a potential ‘void’ under the SEPTA lines in the area.“

Could it be that drilling is undermining the rails? A sinkhole there would be very serious.

September 27: DEP sends out an inspector, resulting in a warning to Sunoco.

“Sunoco was reminded, once again, of the requirement to immediately notify the Department of losses of circulation. Sunoco was also advised to contact Amtrak about the possibility of voids under their tracks and to keep the Department apprised of any ongoing coordination with Amtrak. To date, no notice of any loss of circulation has been received from Sunoco, and Sunoco has not provided the Department with information about contacts they may have made with Amtrak on this issue. … ”

October 5: A frac-out occurs.

“Sunoco reported a release of drilling solution in uplands.”

Here, “uplands” just means no body of water is affected.

November 11: DEP is notified of a major frac-out by a third party. This was the frac-out and associated sinkhole in a residential backyard.

November 14: DEP sends out an inspector to look at the sinkhole. The inspector reports:

“The drilling solution…appears to have caused ground subsidence and the potential to pollute ground water…”

November 16: DEP issues the Notice of Violation. It is as highly critical of Sunoco as it possible to be in bureaucratic language:

“No notification for the above-described losses of circulation has ever been received from Sunoco. The Department is very concerned with Sunoco’s continued failure to provide required notifications for these incidents.”

“Sunoco’s failure to provide required notifications and reports …constitutes unlawful conduct…”

Things have gotten serious, and the DEP wants some answers. According to the NOV, by November 21, Sunoco is to provide:

A detailed description of actions taking for frac-out containment and removal, and plans for remediation (including the subsidence area),
A geologist’s assessment of what caused the problem, what measures were taken to prevent it, and what measures will be taken to prevent a recurrence,
Answers to these five questions:
Was the original pilot hole actually abandoned and grouted?
Was the Aug. 24 loss of circulation at the new pilot hole?
Were there any other losses of circulation?
Why was the crew walking the right-of-way during the week of Sept. 18?
Did any other anomalies happen?
We’ll see what the DEP has received come November 21.

My question is: now that it is crystal clear that Sunoco’s behavior is “unlawful”, who is willing to enforce the law? A fine will not stop Sunoco from violating the law. In the context of a multi-billion-dollar project, a DEP fine would be trivial. The only thing that will get Sunoco’s attention is the threat of shutting down construction of the pipeline. The DEP could do that. So could the courts. Or the Public Utility Commission. And the governor could make it happen. So who is willing to get serious with Sunoco?
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By sandbagger2
After recent Mariner East 2 spills, DEP mulls ‘additional enforcement’
NOVEMBER 20, 2017 | 7:13 PM

Pennsylvania’s environmental regulators are considering tougher restrictions on Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline project after a continuing series of drilling fluid spills and violations of environmental laws.

A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection said the massive cross-state project has been far more of an enforcement challenge than officials expected because of multiple drilling leaks that have seeped into wetlands, bubbled up into residential areas, and in some cases turned private well water cloudy.

“Additional enforcement is certainly something that we are looking into but I can’t comment as to what that might look like,” DEP spokesman Neil Shader told StateImpact after the department, earlier this month, issued its latest two notices of violation for spills in Berks and Chester Counties.

Shader said the project has been a headache for DEP, even allowing for the large size of the 350-mile cross-state pipeline, and he said officials have stepped up their efforts even after a settlement brokered by the Environmental Hearing Board last summer imposed stricter conditions on drilling, following dozens of spills — known as “inadvertent returns.”

“I don’t want make it sound like we weren’t being diligent beforehand but we are certainly taking everything incredibly seriously as these inadvertent returns and other incidents have piled up,” Shader said. “We have certainly paid much more attention to this than we anticipated.”

After a chorus of complaints by lawmakers and the public about the spills, DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said earlier this year that the department would rigorously enforce environmental laws during pipeline construction.

McDonnell’s statement also followed evidence that DEP had issued construction permits in February even though Sunoco had not met all the regulatory requirements.

The notices are the latest in a string of 16 that DEP has sent to Sunoco since it signed the settlement agreement, which required Sunoco to re-evaluate the geology at spill sites and obtain DEP approval before restarting drilling there.

Still, DEP has accused Sunoco of violating its permit conditions rather than the settlement agreement itself.

“We can’t show up at Sunoco’s door and say, ‘You violated the August 10th settlement,’” Shader said. “We just don’t have any sort of authority or enforcement mechanism to go after them for violating the agreement itself.

“I think it would be fair to say that they violated permit conditions altered by that August 10th settlement. To say that it violated the settlement takes it into this weird, legally nebulous area that I know our lawyers always push back on,” he said.

Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields said the company will provide formal responses to the latest notices of violation this week. But he denied the company has been violating its permit conditions in West Whiteland Township.

“Based on our understanding of the protocols for notifying the DEP of inadvertent returns, we have been complying with our permits and will continue to comply,” Shields said in a statement.

In response to earlier notices of violation, Shields has said the company has always complied with the settlement agreement.

Sunoco’s critics say the company continues to cut corners in its haste to complete the pipeline, and that it has violated the settlement agreement in the process.

Alex Bomstein, an attorney for the environmental group Clean Air Council, which led the challenge to Sunoco at the Environmental Hearing Board, said the new notices of violation show the DEP accusing Sunoco of violating not only environmental laws and permit conditions but also the settlement agreement.

That deal includes a spill-response plan known as “IR PPC” which Sunoco did not comply with, meaning that the overall settlement was also violated, Bomstein said. Violation of the plan “is by definition a violation of the settlement agreement,” he said.

The latest violations, dated Nov. 16, say Sunoco spilled drilling fluid at New Morgan Borough, Berks County on an unspecified date, and West Whiteland Township, Chester County, on Nov. 11. The DEP says Sunoco broke two environmental laws by discharging fluids classified as industrial waste, and by violating some of the conditions attached to the DEP’s permits for building the pipeline.

Both notices also list different ways in which Sunoco violated a plan on how to respond to spills which was part of the agreement signed in August by the company, DEP and three environmental groups.

The Chester County notice says Sunoco is required by both the spill plan – called the “IR PPC Plan” — and by one of DEP’s permits, to immediately report any spill to the DEP’s 24-hour response line, but that the company never made the report.

“The Department is very concerned with Sunoco’s continued failure to provide the required notifications for these incidents,” the notice says.

The Chester County incident appeared to have caused the ground to sink at one location, the notice said.

Among its criticisms, the DEP dismissed Sunoco’s description of the Chester County spill as a “loss of containment” from an earlier spill, saying the incident still met the definition of an “inadvertent release.”

George Turner, a supervisor for West Whiteland Township, said on Monday that a sink hole measuring about 4 feet square has opened at a property on Lisa Drive in the township near where a, spill of bentonite clay drilling fluid occurred in response to drilling.

Turner said the sink hole is fenced off and drilling is shut down while Sunoco deals with DEP on a resolution. “There has been no drilling there in two weeks,” he said.

In Berks County, Sunoco failed to notify DEP by telephone that the spill had occurred. The violation notice also accused the company of failing to give DEP at least 24 hours’ notice of the start of horizontal directional drilling, and of failing to submit an initial report on the incident.

The Berks spill discharged fluids into a tributary of a trout stream classified as being of “exceptional value,” the notice said.

The August agreement requires Sunoco to submit the site reviews to DEP for approval, to give landowners 10 days’ notice of its plans to resume drilling, and to let residents know if there is a “substantial probability” that drilling will affect private water wells.

Judge Bernard Labuskes of the Environmental Hearing Board ordered a temporary halt to drilling while the agreement was negotiated, contributing to a string of delays that has left the pipeline some 18 months behind its original schedule, according to the company’s latest target for completion.

During a quarterly earnings call on Nov. 8, company officials accused DEP of taking its time to approve the resumption of drilling in some locations, and they said it is trying to resolve a dispute with West Goshen Township, Chester County where the Public Utility Commission has blocked the construction of a valve along the line, pending a hearing next April.

Sunoco officials said during the call that there is strong demand for transmission of the natural gas liquids that will be carried by the more-than $2.5 billion line, but that the regulatory and technical delays have forced the company to push back the completion date again, this time until the second quarter of next year. Sunoco had hoped to have the pipeline up and running by the end of 2017.
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