User avatar
By sandbagger2
#491781
Sunoco proposes construction change for Mariner East 2, but meets fresh resistance
NOVEMBER 28, 2017 | 1:17 PM
BY JON HURDLE


An aerial view of Sunoco Pipeline's Mariner East 2 construction in rural Pennsylvania. Plans for a new construction technique in some locations have prompted a new round of community resistance.
Sunoco’s plan to change the construction of its Mariner East 2 pipeline in Chester County’s West Whiteland Township is stirring opposition from residents and local lawmakers only four months after a botched drilling operation there spilled fluid, punctured an aquifer and turned drinking water cloudy in some private wells.

The company wants to abandon its controversial method of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) at two West Whiteland sites where a court temporarily halted the practice last summer as part of a statewide action in response to dozens of spills along the 350-mile route.

The Environmental Hearing Board ordered Sunoco to conduct a “re-evaluation” of 63 sites where fluid was spilled, in an effort to determine whether local geology was suitable to the drilling technique even though state permits were issued and construction was underway.

At the points where the pipeline route crosses North Pottstown Pike and Swedesford Road, an independent geologist hired by Sunoco concluded, horizontal drilling should either be sharply curtailed or scrapped altogether, because continuing the work would likely result in more spills.

At the Pottstown Pike site, the consultant said, the drilling would likely have the same result because of a “fractured” geological formation some 70 feet below the surface.

“Based on the further analysis of the underlying geology and hydrogeological factors such as fractured geology, cobble and voids, the original design was determined to pose a moderate to high risk of subsurface and/or surface loss of drilling fluid,” the report by Groundwater & Environmental Services said.

At the Swedesford Road site, the drilling technique is unsuited to the limestone geology, and a method should be used that won’t spill drilling fluids, the report said.

Sunoco has accepted the geologist’s reports, and is now proposing to build the pipeline in an open trench and through a conventional bore at the West Whiteland sites, according to two “re-evaluation” documents on the Department of Environmental Protection’s web site.

But the new plan has already sparked protests by West Whiteland residents and some of their elected representatives even before DEP decides whether to approve it.

“While Sunoco has gone through the motions of re-evaluation, it is clear that the information provided is insufficient,” said State Senator Andy Dinniman, a Democrat whose Chester County district includes West Whiteland.

In a Nov. 22 letter to DEP, Dinniman said Sunoco’s plan for the Pottstown Pike site does not examine the environmental impact of open-trench and conventional bore construction, fails to discuss the possibility of sinkholes – one of which recently opened up on private property in the township – and urged officials to take stronger measures to ensure that pipeline construction does not affect private water wells.

He called on DEP to reject the report as incomplete, to require Sunoco to do a “complete” impact evaluation, and to hold public hearings. DEP did not respond to a request for comment.

Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields said the company has decided that open-trench construction will “best protect the area’s water resources” at the sites. He said the company awaits approval from DEP, and does not expect the changes to affect the pipeline’s overall construction schedule, which is due to end sometime in the second quarter of 2018. He declined to respond to Dinniman’s criticism.

When complete, the $2.5 billion pipeline will carry ethane, butane and propane from the Marcellus Shale of southwestern Pennsylvania to a terminal at Marcus Hook near Philadelphia, where most of it will be exported. It has been under construction since February.

David Mano, a West Whiteland resident whose well water turned cloudy after drilling went wrong in the summer, said there’s now a “major uproar” in the community over Sunoco’s plans. Open-trench construction means the company would dig a trench, lay the pipeline in the trench and cover it. The pipeline would be closer to the surface than if the company used horizontal drilling.

If the new plan is approved, the trench will run next to suburban housing lots, under a little league baseball field, near a seniors’ assisted-living center, and through a wetland next to the local library, he said. Residents who signed easements allowing the pipeline to be built beneath their land would have a trench they did not expect.

Mano’s neighbor Ginny Kerslake, who lives a few yards from a drilling site on Shoen Road, said burying the pipeline in a shallow trench rather than 60 or 70 feet underground would increase residents’ exposure to any possible explosion of the highly pressurized natural gas liquids that will be carried by the pipeline through the densely populated suburban area.

“The danger of it being just a few feet underground is that it puts it at risk of being hit by somebody who doesn’t know the pipeline is there. It could be a catastrophe. It could kill thousands of people,” she said.

The West Whiteland locations are among only three of the 63 re-evaluation sites where Sunoco proposes to stop HDD altogether and substitute other means of pipeline construction, according to Alex Bomstein, an attorney for the environmental group Clean Air Council, which led the challenge to Sunoco before the Environmental Hearing Board.

By Monday, only 12 of the sites were recorded as being in the re-evaluation process, according to a spreadsheet on the DEP’s website, suggesting that Sunoco has its work cut out to re-evaluate the remaining 51 drilling sites, and obtain DEP approval for its plans by the middle of next year.

Asked if Sunoco is still working on plans for the remaining sites, Shields said he would defer to DEP on that question.

It’s not clear whether the re-evaluation process will cause yet another delay in the pipeline schedule, which is now some 18 months behind its original target for completion, but progress looks slow so far, Bomstein said.

“I’m surprised that it has gone as slowly as it has, but I don’t know what it’s like internally on their end,” he said.

State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, a Chester County Democrat, said she wasn’t familiar with the details of the re-evaluation plan but said regulators should take whatever time they need to ensure the safety of the pipeline project.

The new plan should be “thoroughly and completely vetted” by environmental engineers who can determine its safety, and help to overcome continuing public concerns, Comitta said.

The changes and their resulting delays might have been avoided if Sunoco had done its due diligence more thoroughly in the first place, argued James Schmid of Schmid & Co., a consulting ecologist who has worked for Clean Air Council and other environmental clients.

“They are supposed to have done their geological borings, and documented their reasons for using or not using horizontal directional drilling, and all that was supposed to be done before they put this stuff into the DEP for approval,” Schmid said.

A more thorough examination would have allowed the company to know that they would have the problems that led to the re-evaluation, he said. “I would think that the rocks haven’t changed in the last three years. What Sunoco has learned may have changed dramatically.”
User avatar
By sandbagger2
#492057
Meehan calls for pipeline risk assessment study
By Alex Rose, Delaware County Daily Times
POSTED: 12/13/17, 8:03 PM EST | UPDATED: 38 SECS AGO # COMMENTS


U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-7, of Chadds Ford, is asking Gov. Tom Wolf to conduct and publicize a risk assessment of the Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline currently under construction in parts of the county.

“Constructed safely, pipelines have the potential to generate good-paying jobs and benefit the energy economy in Pennsylvania,” said Meehan in a Dec. 12 letter to the governor. “However, over the past several months I have taken numerous meetings with constituents alarmed about the potential safety implications of the construction and operation of the ME2 pipeline.”

The Mariner East 2 would bring natural gas liquids including propane, ethane and butane from Marcellus shale areas in Pennsylvania and neighboring states to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex for refining and sale. About 11.4 miles of pipeline is being routed through private and public property in Thornbury, Edgmont, Middletown, Aston and Upper Chichester.

Residents in those municipalities have decried the route of the pipeline, however, which in some cases skirts school properties and divides residential areas. One group who has adopted the moniker “The Middletown Six” has taken a complaint to enforce zoning regulations before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, which heard arguments in October.

The Andover development homeowners’ association in Thornbury also filed a motion in Commonwealth Court in September seeking a preliminary injunction to halt work on the project until mitigation efforts have been put in place, and the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety has called for a moratorium on construction and for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to revoke Sunoco’s permits.

The state Environmental Hearing Board approved a settlement between Sunoco Pipeline LP and environmental groups in August regarding horizontal drilling concerns fueled by two non-toxic lubricant leaks in May and July.

Under that agreement, Sunoco was to re-evaluate 47 drilling sites where “inadvertent return” has occurred or will occur and get approval from DEP before resuming drilling operations.

DEP Press Secretary Neil Shader said following an Aug. 17 spill in Dauphin County that Sunoco failed to adhere to the agreement in that case, but Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields said the company was in compliance.

Shields could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Meehan said it was those “reports of undisclosed leaks of drilling fluid and unauthorized methods of drilling” that prompted fears from his constituents and motivated his letter to the governor.

Meehan spokesman John Elizandro said the residents expressed concerns that ranged into the potential for catastrophic disaster. While pipelines can be an important part of the state’s energy economy, said Elizandro, public safety must be the top priority in any such project.

“Residents have repeatedly requested that the state conduct and publicize a risk assessment that takes into consideration the safety hazards of a pipeline leak and the probability of such a leak occurring,” said Meehan. “A risk assessment would be a welcome and responsible step in providing residents with the information they need to better understand the construction and operation of this pipeline and any potential effects it may have on a densely populated community.”

Meehan said the nature of the pipeline and its route is such that primary regulatory responsibility rests with the commonwealth and the Wolf administration.

“Congressman Meehan is right to stand up for his constituents,” said Alex Bomstein, an attorney for the Clean Air Council. “Gov. Wolf must act to protect all residents of the commonwealth.”

“Gov. Wolf understands local concerns and has worked to address them,” said spokesman J.J. Abbott Tuesday. “DEP has held Sunoco accountable to permits and laws under their jurisdiction. However, DEP’s role is focused on environmental protections like erosion and sediment control, storm water management from earth-moving activities, and obstructions and encroachments to waterways and wetlands.”

Abbott said safety issues related to public utilities fall under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, which would have purview over any safety assessment. He added that the governor would support such an assessment being conducted.

Representatives for the PUC could not be reached late Tuesday.
User avatar
By sandbagger2
#492062
East Goshen pushes for pipeline changes
By Bill Rettew, brettew@dailylocal.com
POSTED: 12/13/17, 3:57 PM EST | UPDATED: 10 HRS AGO 1 COMMENT


EAST GOSHEN >> Township supervisors recently adopted a pair of resolutions requesting that representatives elected state-wide take bipartisan action to better regulate pipelines.

Letters were also sent to Gov. Tom Wolf and other representatives seeking “bipartisan action to advance, approve, and enact pending legislation for the regulation of interstate and intrastate pipeline transmission infrastructure in the interests of health, safety and welfare of all the citizens in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” reads a Dec. 7 letter sent to Wolf.

Supervisor Marty Shane wonders if municipal ordinances should trump state and national regulations.

“You can’t sit and take it like a boxer where you get beat up,” Shane said. “Legislators need to deal with this from our perspective. What needs to be done at the Harrisburg level? What should supervisors control and not control?”


The non-binding Oct. 3 resolution calls for a siting policy to determine where pipelines go for the “common good” of all Pennsylvania residents.

It also suggests re-evaluation of the legal framework to allow municipalities to directly participate in siting.

Easement saturation standards would be examined, with possible limitation of the number, size and character of products carried in a given easement. When the Mariner project is completed, 11 pipelines will crisscross the township.

Supervisors also want to see that impacted local residents and municipalities are properly reimbursed through fees and taxes.

Township noise violation charges against Sunoco Pipeline, which is building the Mariner East 2 Pipeline, are scheduled to be heard Jan. 10 in district court.

Shane said that the court will be asked to determine what level of noise is “lawful and reasonable” as part of a test case and what could become a landmark decision for the entire state.

Sunoco spokesman Scott Shields declined to comment on the township’s plans.

Plans call for the now-under-construction Mariner East 2 pipeline to snake 350 miles from Marcellus Shale deposits in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania to the former Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook, Delaware County.

Shane supports statewide ordinances that would establish the same standards everywhere.

Whether it’s collecting a fee from pipeline owners or municipalities deciding where pipelines can go, Shane said that any decisions need to be acceptable to the majority of the counties in the state.

Shane said that many see Marcellus Shale production and pipelines as a windfall.

“They can’t understand why we in Chester County are opposed to this,” he said.

The most recent resolution was adopted Nov. 21.

This resolution supports investment by legislators, commencing with committee work, to effectively and in a timely fashion review any proposed pipeline bills.

The supers also encouraged the Senate and House to fully discuss, debate and approve new laws, and in due course, Gov. Wolf should sign legislation regulating the “public health, safety and welfare to the benefit of all the citizens of the Commonwealth.”

In other related news, the township was recently notified that Sunoco will be pulling pipe after dark near the Bow Tree Subdivision as late as 10 p.m. starting Dec. 13.

Also, as reported on the township website: “It has been brought to our attention that Adelphia Gateway LLC plans to convert the Interstate Energy Pipeline, which currently runs through East Goshen Township, to carry shale gas.

“The Interstate Energy Company Pipeline runs through the township’s open space in the Wentworth development, which is located by the CVS Drugstore. At their meeting on Dec. 5 the board of supervisors acknowledged receipt of a letter from Adelphia Gateway regarding possible changes to their right-of-way. The township also has been advised recently that other property owners have received similar letters.

“What does all of this mean? Based on what we know, Interstate Energy is a Public Utility that has a tariff from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to transport natural gas and oil in the eastern part of the state.”
User avatar
By sandbagger2
#492206
Groups put pressure on Wolf to halt Mariner East 2 construction
By Bill Rettew, brettew@dailylocal.com
POSTED: 12/21/17, 5:46 PM EST | UPDATED: 36 SECS AGO 0 COMMENTS


HARRISBURG >> Six community members and two elected officials met face-to-face with Gov. Tom Wolf Wednesday as they ratcheted up the pressure on the governor to halt construction of the Sunoco Mariner East 2 Pipeline until a new safety assessment can be performed on the controversial project.

The residents from Delaware and Chester counties asked the governor to use his executive authority under Title 35 to immediately halt pipeline construction and operation, and to assess the risk the project poses to the safety of communities along the route.

“The residents, all members of the bi-county, bipartisan coalition Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety, additionally demanded that the Commonwealth mitigate that risk to vulnerable populations impacted by the hazardous, highly volatile liquid export pipeline,” reads a coalition release.

State Reps. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161 of Swarthmore, and Carolyn Comitta, D-156 of West Chester, joined the residents.

The governor was presented with letters from a bi-partisan group of elected officials. Urging action were Congressman Patrick Meehan, R-7 of Chadds Ford, state Senators Andrew Dinniman, D-19, and John Rafferty, R-44, and state representatives Becky Corbin, R-155, Duane Milne, R-167, and Comitta.

“During the meeting, residents repeatedly stressed the urgent need to address the threat to densely populated communities, and once again handed Gov. Wolf a petition containing over 6,000 signatures asking him to protect the safety of schools,” reads the release.

J.J. Abbott, Wolf’s press secretary, released the following statement, Thursday afternoon: “Gov. Wolf has met with elected officials from this area and wanted to also hear from residents. He appreciated the meeting. As we have said previously, any safety assessment would have to be conducted by the PUC and Gov. Wolf would support such an assessment being done. As the PUC is the relevant authority with safety oversight over this project, if they were to perform this evaluation we would coordinate with them on how to proceed to safely and adequately assess safety concerns with this project.”

The now-under-construction Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline will carry highly volatile liquids and snake 350 miles across from Marcellus Shale deposits in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania to the former Sunoco Refinery in Marcus Hook, Delaware County.

Jeff Shields, Sunoco Pipeline communications manager, again repeated the company’s stance that construction is being done to the highest safety standards of the industry.

“We understand there are varying opinions on infrastructure projects such as ours, however, pipelines are the safest and most environmentally friendly way to transport the oil and gas products we use every day,” Shields said. “The mainline construction of ME2 is approximately 91 percent complete and our HDDs (Horizontal Directional Drilling) are approximately 62 percent complete. We look forward to completing our project in a timely manner. The safety of all pipelines is built into the strict federal regulations for the construction, operation and maintenance of transmission pipelines. Those include not just the Mariner East 2 system but the many natural gas and natural gas liquids pipelines that have operated safely for decades throughout the Commonwealth. It is well documented that we exceed those federal safety regulations in many areas, including pipe thickness, depth, weld testing and pipeline inspection.”

The company picked up a legal victory Thursday when the state Public Utility Commission lifted an injunction against that had halted construction in West Goshen Township.

Work had been stalled since July in a dispute between the township and company over the installation and location of a valve station.

Bibianna Dussling is a Middletown Township resident and co-president of the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety.

“We’ve seen a rapidly growing bipartisan consensus to halt the construction and properly assess the risk of the Mariner East project,” Dussling said. “We hope the governor will take these concerns seriously and take immediate action to protect our safety.”

Caroline Hughes of East Goshen also attended the meeting.

“We expect the governor to take swift action, to use his authority to protect us, as mandated by his oath and his office,” Hughes said as leader of Goshen United for Public Safety. “Citizens are prepared to escalate our voices and demand representative action.

“We’re getting the attention of people in office that have an ability to make a change and we’re taking every opportunity to communicate the urgency of the situation.”

Comitta called on the governor to halt construction.

“I have been talking and meeting with constituents, state agency heads, township officials and Sunoco representatives regarding the Mariner East 2 project since I took office,” Comitta said. “Unfortunately, this project has experienced a record number of incidents and that is completely unacceptable.

“It’s past time to assess the safety risks so that our first responders and residents have the information they need to be safe, and it’s regrettable that this wasn’t done prior to the start of the project.”

Rebecca Britton of the Uwchlan Safety Coalition said Wolf seemed eager to learn about the group’s presentation.

She talked about Wolf’s role, and the need for him to halt construction under Title 35.

“The governor has the ability and primary responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Pennsylvania,,” Britton said.

Melissa DiBernardino said she will pull her kids form SS.. Peter and Paul Elementary School if the new pipeline goes through. The planned pipeline runs less than 100 feet from several schools and a senior care center.

“While Gov. Wolf wouldn’t give an answer today, he assures us we’ll get one soon,” she said. ”I hope he sees the urgency in this. Every day he lets this continue, my children are at risk while Mariner 1 runs. Our children (and people of all ages) need a hero right now. Let’s hope he comes through within two weeks.”

On Wednesday Dinniman and Rafferty, calling the problems with pipeline construction “unacceptable,” had called for a halt to construction until constituents’ concerns are resolved.

“In my district alone, pipeline construction has contaminated almost two dozen wells, disrupted businesses, created significant environmental damage, and resulted in the development of an expanding sinkhole that currently threatens at least two private homes and is within 100 feet of Amtrak’s Keystone Line,” Dinniman wrote in a Dec. 18 letter to Wolf. “I should point out that all of these incidents have occurred in a single Chester County municipality (West Whiteland Township) as a result of pipeline construction.”

Both Rafferty and Dinniman called the pipeline construction “unacceptable.”

Dinniman, who serves on the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, has been a vocal critic of the way the pipeline was being constructed and an advocate for voicing residents’ environmental, public health, property rights, and safety concerns related to the project.

Dinniman also partnered with Rafferty to introduce a bipartisan package of bills aimed at strengthening the pipeline regulatory process to give counties, municipalities, and local communities the tools they need to better address related safety concerns.

In his letter to Wolf, Dinniman addressed the safety concerns associated with the pipeline.

“While Chester County has some of the highest trained and dedicated emergency responders, in the event of a catastrophic release, lives will be lost,” he wrote. “A natural gas pipeline of this type does not belong in high-consequence communities and other states have implemented commonsense regulations that would prohibit the planned pipeline path. While I have introduced legislation to directly address this issue, action is needed now.”

“This law is being strengthened to coincide with the seriousness of each violation to help protect law enforcement, tow truck operators, highway workers and other emergency personnel who put themselves in harm’s way,” Rafferty noted. “It is the motorists’ responsibility to slow down and move over when they encounter an emergency response area on roadways in this commonwealth.”
User avatar
By sandbagger2
#492227
Groups put pressure on Wolf to halt Mariner East 2 construction
By Bill Rettew, brettew@dailylocal.com
POSTED: 12/21/17, 9:23 PM EST | UPDATED: 19 SECS AGO 1 COMMENT


The Mariner East 2 pipeline along 352 near Eldridge Drive in East Goshen.
The Mariner East 2 pipeline along 352 near Eldridge Drive in East Goshen. DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA FILE PHOTO
HARRISBURG >> Six community members and two elected officials met face-to-face with Gov. Tom Wolf Wednesday as they ratcheted up the pressure to halt construction of the Sunoco Mariner East 2 Pipeline until a new safety assessment can be performed on the controversial project.

The residents from Delaware and Chester counties asked the governor to use his executive authority under Title 35 to immediately halt pipeline construction and operations, and to assess the risk the project poses to the safety of communities along the route.

“The residents, all members of the bicounty, bipartisan coalition Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety, additionally demanded that the commonwealth mitigate that risk to vulnerable populations impacted by the hazardous, highly volatile liquid export pipeline,” reads a coalition release.

State Reps. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161 of Swarthmore, and Carolyn Comitta, D-156 of West Chester, joined the residents.

The governor was presented with letters from a bipartisan group of elected officials. Urging action were U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-7 of Chadds Ford, state Sens. Andrew Dinniman, D-19, and John Rafferty, R-44, and state Reps. Becky Corbin, R-155, Duane Milne, R-167, and Comitta.

“During the meeting, residents repeatedly stressed the urgent need to address the threat to densely populated communities, and once again handed Gov. Wolf a petition containing over 6,000 signatures asking him to protect the safety of schools,” reads the release.

J.J. Abbott, Wolf’s press secretary, released the following statement Thursday afternoon: “Gov. Wolf has met with elected officials from this area and wanted to also hear from residents. He appreciated the meeting. As we have said previously, any safety assessment would have to be conducted by the PUC and Gov. Wolf would support such an assessment being done. As the PUC is the relevant authority with safety oversight over this project, if they were to perform this evaluation we would coordinate with them on how to proceed to safely and adequately assess safety concerns with this project.”

The now-under-construction Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline will carry highly volatile liquids and snake 350 miles across from Marcellus Shale deposits in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania to the former Sunoco Refinery in Marcus Hook, Delaware County.

Jeff Shields, Sunoco Pipeline communications manager, again repeated the company’s stance that construction is being done to the highest safety standards of the industry.

“We understand there are varying opinions on infrastructure projects such as ours, however, pipelines are the safest and most environmentally friendly way to transport the oil and gas products we use every day,” Shields said. “The mainline construction of ME2 is approximately 91 percent complete and our HDDs (Horizontal Directional Drilling) are approximately 62 percent complete. We look forward to completing our project in a timely manner. The safety of all pipelines is built into the strict federal regulations for the construction, operation and maintenance of transmission pipelines. Those include not just the Mariner East 2 system but the many natural gas and natural gas liquids pipelines that have operated safely for decades throughout the commonwealth. It is well documented that we exceed those federal safety regulations in many areas, including pipe thickness, depth, weld testing and pipeline inspection.”

The company picked up a legal victory Thursday when the state Public Utility Commission lifted an injunction against that had halted construction in West Goshen Township.

Work had been stalled since July in a dispute between the township and company over the installation and location of a valve station.

Bibianna Dussling is a Middletown resident and co-president of the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety.

“We’ve seen a rapidly growing bipartisan consensus to halt the construction and properly assess the risk of the Mariner East project,” Dussling said. “We hope the governor will take these concerns seriously and take immediate action to protect our safety.”

Caroline Hughes of East Goshen also attended the meeting.

“We expect the governor to take swift action, to use his authority to protect us, as mandated by his oath and his office,” Hughes said as leader of Goshen United for Public Safety. “Citizens are prepared to escalate our voices and demand representative action.

“We’re getting the attention of people in office that have an ability to make a change and we’re taking every opportunity to communicate the urgency of the situation.”

Comitta called on the governor to halt construction.

“I have been talking and meeting with constituents, state agency heads, township officials and Sunoco representatives regarding the Mariner East 2 project since I took office,” Comitta said. “Unfortunately, this project has experienced a record number of incidents and that is completely unacceptable.

“It’s past time to assess the safety risks so that our first responders and residents have the information they need to be safe, and it’s regrettable that this wasn’t done prior to the start of the project.”

Rebecca Britton of the Uwchlan Safety Coalition said Wolf seemed eager to learn about the group’s presentation.

She talked about Wolf’s role, and the need for him to halt construction under Title 35.

“The governor has the ability and primary responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Pennsylvania,,” Britton said.

Melissa DiBernardino said she will pull her kids form SS. Peter and Paul Elementary School if the new pipeline goes through. The planned pipeline runs less than 100 feet from several schools and a senior care center.

“While Gov. Wolf wouldn’t give an answer today, he assures us we’ll get one soon,” she said. ”I hope he sees the urgency in this. Every day he lets this continue, my children are at risk while Mariner 1 runs. Our children (and people of all ages) need a hero right now. Let’s hope he comes through within two weeks.”
User avatar
By sandbagger2
#492284
The silent “smart pig”: why Sunoco’s inspection system won’t protect us
Date: December 27, 2017
Author: galex49

Sunoco promises to check its pipelines carefully for cracks and leaks. Before installation, the company says, it tests the welds using x-rays, and it uses a water-pressure test for leaks.

Once the pipe is in the ground, though, testing is more difficult. Large ruptures can be detected because of pressure changes. But smaller flaws are harder. Detecting them requires running a “smart pig” through the pipe to detect cracks. A smart pig is an electronic device that can detect cracks and changes in wall thickness using ultrasound or changes in a magnetic field. Once the pig has been run through the pipeline and recovered, the data retrieved from it is processed by computer software that interprets it and produces reports on the state of the pipeline.

Sunoco is required to do these smart-pig inspections periodically (at least once every 5 years), and Sunoco always mentions this process in response to safety-related questions. But how good is that technique at actually catching problems? Will it prevent a catastrophic leak in the Dragonpipe (Mariner East 2 pipeline)?

“As scientific as a roulette wheel.” A Wall Street Journal article published in 2013 (“Oil-Pipeline Cracks Evading Robot ‘Pigs’”) cast doubt on the ability of smart pigs to find cracks. It discussed spills (including one that sent 21,000 gallons of crude oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River) due to flaws that smart pigs had failed to detect.

A pipeline consultant, Don Deaver, is quoted in the article as saying that using smart pigs to find cracks is “as close to scientific as a roulette wheel”, but even so it is still the best tool the industry has. Testing by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) revealed that “smart-pig scans sometimes fail to detect anomalies.”

Do the pipeline companies really want to know about defects? Prior to that 2013 article, investigative reporter Greg Palast had already reported on pig failures, and he referred back to his early work when he wrote about the recent Keystone XL spill. His reporting gives cause for concern. The problem is not just that the technology doesn’t always work.

What Palast reported was that one smart-pig company sells a device with software that is known to be defective, causing it not to report problems in some cases. He claims the software developers at the company knew about the bug and created a fix for it, but the company decided not to implement the fix.

Palast reports that the company did not fix the bug because its customers (the pipeline operators like Sunoco) prefer NOT to know that their pipelines have cracks and leaks. He sees this as an economic decision: it is cheaper for them to deal with the aftereffects of a spill or explosion—even massive legal settlements for injuries and deaths—than to shut down the pipeline, dig it up, and fix the pipe before the problem reaches that stage. Using a pig with faulty software, they can meet the regulatory requirement for pig inspection and still not have to deal with problems that really should have been detected and addressed.

Palast lays out the story in his 2011 book “Vultures’ Picnic”, which I can recommend. (It is available from the Chester and Delaware county library systems.) A whistleblower (one of the programmers who worked on the pig software) approached Palast with the story. The programmer came forward because he felt remorse after the San Bruno natural gas explosion (see “What happened in San Bruno could happen here”) which he thought might have been prevented by a proper pig inspection. He felt guilty about the many injuries and 8 deaths that occurred in San Bruno. In principle, Palast reports, most cracks and leaks ought to be detectable by a smart pig long before there is any detectable external leakage.

PHMSA knows that pigging is not enough. PHMSA (the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration mentioned earlier) is the federal agency in charge of pipeline safety standards. In the wake of the San Bruno natural gas explosion, Congress told PHMSA to require periodic pressure testing of natural gas pipelines, although not liquids pipelines (like the Dragonpipe). But subsequently there were two major ruptures of liquids pipelines, in 2007 and 2013, and both happened after smart-pig inspections that failed to find the problem (details are in this article).

Recognizing the need for better inspection, PHMSA launched a rewrite of the pipeline safety rules for hazardous liquids in 2015. It was called the “Hazardous Liquids Integrity Verification Process”. That effort sounded promising, but it disappeared into a black hole—nothing has been heard of it since 2015.

Sunoco’s record proves their inspections are not adequate. In practice, multiple leaks on the Sunoco Mariner East 1 have been discovered (by third parties, not Sunoco) only after substantial spills—one of them as recently as April of this year—that occurred after pig-based inspection failed to reveal a problem. And Sunoco’s record for leaks per mile of pipeline is the worst in the industry. Clearly, the company cannot be counted on to prevent serious leaks.

So the next time someone from Sunoco claims they keep their pipelines safe with smart-pig inspections, ask them how many times they have actually dug one up to fix something detected by the pig. Then compare that with the number of leaks that Sunoco pipelines have sprung. That will tell you something about how good their pig-based leak detection system is.

The bottom line: despite what Sunoco may say, there is no safe way to put a pipeline this dangerous through a populated area. It must be stopped.
User avatar
By sandbagger2
#492371
Dinniman: Six pipeline questions that need answers
POSTED: 12/31/17, 2:52 PM EST | UPDATED: 11 HRS AGO 1 COMMENT


As we enter a new year, serious concerns about the safety of the Sunoco’s Mariner East pipelines are not going away. In fact, they’re only growing and so are our voices. Important questions about these pipelines – pipelines carrying highly volatile natural gas liquids such as butane and propane – will be front-and-center in 2018. Six fundamental issues, left unanswered, need, deserve, and demand resolution in the new year. They are:

• Why did the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approve Sunoco’s water permit for Chester and Delaware counties based on inadequate information, most notably a faulty list of private wells used for public notification? In reviewing documentation, it’s striking that DEP allowed Sunoco to use a list that was so obviously incomplete. In fact, so inadequate was the list of wells that it only included 22 entries (three in Chester County) of private, residential wells that could be impacted along Mariner East’s more than 300-mile route in Pennsylvania.

• How long until DEP releases this list of residents potentially impacted by the pipelines? I’ve been forced to file a Right-to-Know request to obtain such information – information that is needed to ensure that residents located near the pipeline route are notified in a timely manner. We already know that several residents whose wells were negatively impacted by drilling indicated that they were not given the prior notice of construction as required under the permit. How can we know that DEP is enforcing the water permit if it won’t even share the information it needs to do so? And how can DEP contend that such information should be withheld, when it is generated using public resources?

• Why didn’t the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) conduct its own risk analysis before granting approvals, including approving Sunoco’s use of eminent domain as a public utility? And why hasn’t the governor’s office demanded that an independent risk assessment be completed? In fact, in granting public utility/eminent domain status for Mariner East II and III, the PUC cited an antiquated permit of conveyance dating back to the 1930s from the original petroleum pipeline.

Remember, these pipelines are carrying materials that are so potentially dangerous that any explosion would offer little opportunity to escape and would likely result in loss of life. Recently, the PUC once again showed it disregard for public safety when it allowed Sunoco to get out of building a valve station in West Goshen.

• Why has the governor’s Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force Report sat on a shelf gathering dust while the concerns associated with the Mariner East pipelines weigh heavy on so many citizens’ minds? After extensive work and discussion, the task force made several important recommendations regarding pipeline placement and safety in its final report. Our citizens are owed an explanation as to why the task force report and its recommendations have gone largely ignored.

• Why did DEP approve pipeline construction in the Route 30 corridor, an area with a unique geologic formation that is prone to sinkholes, in the first place? Karst formations are no place for pipelines. So, it’s no coincidence that drilling activities have been plagued by geologic problems including contaminated wells, a growing sinkhole, and various aquifer issues.

Most states have strict regulations for pipeline construction in high-consequence and densely populated areas, like Exton. But, we live in Pennsylvania where it seems like anything goes for pipeline companies.

• Why hasn’t DEP, the PUC, or the governor’s office, including his secretary of legislative affairs, spoken out in support of the multiple bills calling for improved pipeline safety? Perhaps, the answer is the same as to why the pipeline task force report has gone ignored.

The thousands of area residents questioning the safety and construction of the Mariner pipelines do not oppose the economic benefits and jobs coming from the Marcellus Shale industry. Instead, they are mothers and fathers, of all political stripes, who care deeply about the safety of their children and family members who attend schools or live in retirement communities near the pipeline’s path.

Until these six questions are answered and other public safety issues resolved, I, as state Senator, continue to stand in solidarity with my constituents in asking the governor to exercise his authority under Title 35 to halt pipeline construction. We must ensure that our health, safety, and well-being are put before corporate profits.

State Senator Andy Dinniman, of West Whiteland, represents the 19th Senatorial District and serves on the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
User avatar
By sandbagger2
#492382
DEP Order Suspending Construction Activities

I love how they blatantly disregard the laws and seem to do whatever they damn well please, as long as they can get away with it.

Print DEP News Room
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
01/3/2018


CONTACT:
Neil Shader, DEP
717-787-1323

DEP Suspends Mariner East 2 Construction Permits

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued an order suspending the construction permits associated with the Mariner East 2 pipeline until the permittee, Sunoco Pipeline, L.P. (Sunoco) meets the requirements outlined in the order. Sunoco must cease all construction activity on the pipeline project, except for maintenance of erosion controls and limited maintenance of horizontal directional drilling equipment.

“Until Sunoco can demonstrate that the permit conditions can and will be followed, DEP has no alternative but to suspend the permits,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “We are living up to our promise to hold this project accountable to the strong protections in the permits.”

Under the order, all activities permitted under Chapter 102 and Chapter 105 of the PA Code must immediately cease. The permits will be suspended until Sunoco satisfies the terms outlined in the order, including, but not limited to:

• Address all impacts to private water wells in Silver Spring Township, Cumberland County
• Identify all in-progress or upcoming construction activities and detail the specific Chapter 102 and Chapter 105 permit under which the activity is authorized
• Submit a detailed Operations Plan outlining additional measures and controls to minimize inadvertent returns

The full order can be found here: http://files.dep.state.pa.us/ProgramInt ... 010318.pdf

A list of the Notices of Violations issued to Sunoco for Mariner East 2 can be found on the DEP website: http://www.dep.pa.gov/Business/ProgramI ... st-II.aspx
  • 1
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
  • 26
  • 27
  • 32