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By eriknben10
What a waste of time and money. The industry already meets or exceeds the states mandates. These political pukes turn my stomach. What are his views on the 90 year old bomb down the center of Pennell Road?
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By sandbagger2
MAY 24, 2018 | 12:03 PM
Mariner East construction, operation halted again in Chester County
PUC judge says pipelines are a risk to public safety
Jon Hurdle
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Mariner East 2 pipeline construction crews work in the backyards of homes on Lisa Drive in West Whiteland Township, Chester County, on May 2. Sinkholes that opened in the area prompted the state’s Public Utility Commission to order that an existing pipeline nearby, the Mariner East 1, be shut down until it could be determined that the sinkholes didn’t threaten its safety. PUC on May 3 approved a re-start of Mariner East 1.
A Pennsylvania judge on Thursday halted construction of Sunoco’s two new Mariner East pipelines, as well as the operation of the existing Mariner East 1 pipeline in Chester County’s West Whiteland Township, granting an emergency petition by state Sen. Andy Dinniman.

Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Barnes said in an order that she was persuaded by Dinniman’s argument that the pipelines are a risk to public safety in the township, and granted his emergency petition for a halt to construction and operation of the pipelines until the PUC determines that they are safe.

“I find there to be an imminent risk to the public and a need for immediate relief and further study to be done on ME1, ME2 and ME2X for the Commission and its Bureau of Safety Engineers to evaluate before construction should resume on ME 2 or ME2X in West Whiteland Twp. and before a potential catastrophic event occurs on ME 1,” the judge wrote in an order issued Thursday after two days of hearings on the Senator’s petition earlier this month. “Additionally, local and state government needs time to create emergency evacuation and notification plans and to educate the public before operations should resume.”

The order reimposes a shutdown on the operation of Mariner East 1 that the PUC ordered in early March after sinkholes appeared at Lisa Drive, a West Whiteland site where the new lines are being built alongside the existing pipeline. The first order was lifted in early May after the PUC concluded that there was no problem with the integrity of the old line.

The new order said: “Sunoco Pipeline L.P. is enjoined from beginning and shall cease and desist all current operation, construction, including drilling activities on the Mariner East 1, 2 and Mariner East 2X pipeline in West Whiteland Township, Pennsylvania until the entry of a final Commission Order ending the formal amended complaint proceeding.”

The order is the latest blow for a pipeline project that has been plagued with technical, environmental and legal problems since it began construction in February 2017. Last summer, construction was temporarily halted by the Environmental Hearing Board, a state court, after multiple spills of drilling fluid into waterways and private land along the 350-mile route across southern Pennsylvania.

Some private well owners in West Whiteland experienced cloudy water last July after the company drilled into an aquifer there.

In January, the Department of Environmental Protection shut down construction for about a month and issued a $12.6 million penalty to Sunoco for continuing spills, saying the company had been “egregious” in breaking environmental rules.

Residents along the pipeline route, especially those in the densely populated suburbs west of Philadelphia, say the pressurized natural gas liquids to be carried by the new lines represent a threat to public safety because of their highly explosive nature, which they say is greater than that of traditional natural gas pipelines.

Sunoco insists the lines are safe and meet or exceed state and federal regulatory standards.

The environmental problems added to delays in construction of Mariner East 2 which the company recently said is due for completion in the third quarter. When operational, the line will carry propane, ethane and butane from southwest Pennsylvania and Ohio to a terminal at Marcus Hook in Delaware County where most of it will be exported.

Sunoco did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the judge’s order.

By reimposing the shutdown of Mariner East 1, the ruling raises questions about the PUC’s decision on May 3 to allow it to restart carrying natural gas liquids after a shutdown of almost two months.

But PUC spokesman Nils Hagen-Frederiksen said the May 3 decision was specific to the West Whiteland neighborhood of Lisa Drive, where the sinkholes appeared starting late last year, and that the commissioners had invited the public to file their own complaints about the project.

“Today’s order from Administrative Law Judge Barnes is the result of the exact process highlighted by the Commission, which allows citizens to have their voices heard,” Hagen-Frederiksen said.

Opponents of the Mariner East project welcomed the ruling and praised Dinniman’s initiative.

“The Public Utility Commission’s Order provides much needed protection for the public from the dangers Sunoco has inflicted upon communities in Chester County and beyond,” said Joseph Otis Minott, executive director of Clean Air Council, which has led legal challenges to the project. He called the ruling a “great victory.”

Food & Water Watch, another environmental group, said the ruling shows that Gov. Tom Wolf should halt construction of the two new pipelines altogether.

“Today’s decision gives hope to the communities along the pipeline route who have demanded protection from Sunoco’s dangerous and unnecessary pipeline,” the group said in a statement.

But advocates for the pipeline industry and the labor groups that support it said there is no reason to halt the pipelines, which meet rigorous regulation by state and federal agencies.

“Pipeline opponents have shopped the legal system long enough to finally find a judge who is more sympathetic to their cause than the facts,” said Kurt Knaus, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance.

GAIN, a group that promotes infrastructure investment, condemned the ruling, which it said would undermine confidence in Pennsylvania’s regulatory environment.

“This activist Judge’s decision flies in the face of the extensive testing and review overseen by the Pennsylvania Utility Commission which led to the Commission’s unanimous decision to allow operations of Mariner East 1 to resume just three weeks ago,” it said.

It called the ruling a “shocking development” that risks the loss of billions of dollars in investment for other infrastructure projects.

In her 26-page ruling, the judge said Mariner East 1 had leaked three times in the last year, including on April 1, 2017, in Morgantown, Berks County where about 1,000 gallons of natural gas liquids escaped. It took Sunoco 90 minutes to shut the pipeline down. “This is a dangerous quantity of hazardous gas,” she wrote.

In West Whiteland, Sunoco had not done enough to protect water supplies, she wrote, siding with Dinniman.

“Petitioner has shown Sunoco is putting West Whiteland Township’s water supplies at risk by failing to adequately identify, document and avoid drilling through well or aquifer locations underground,” the judge said.
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By eriknben10
Sunoco Pipeline Responds to Interim Emergency Order issued by Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Barnes
DALLAS – May 24, 2018 – Sunoco Pipeline, L.P., a subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, provides the following response to today’s Interim Emergency Order and Certification of Material Question (“Order”) issued by Elizabeth Barnes, Administrative Law Judge of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), on the Amended Petition for Interim Emergency Order (“Petition”) regarding the operation of its Mariner East 1 pipeline and construction of its Mariner East 2 and 2X pipelines in West Whiteland Township in Chester County, PA.

We strongly disagree with Judge Barnes’ Order and believe there is no evidence or legal basis to support Senator Dinniman’s claims in his Petition and the Order that followed. Further, the Order directly contradicts the detailed work of PUC staff and the May 3, 2018, unanimous decision of PUC commissioners to return ME1 to service. Specifically, the safe operation of ME1 was verified through exhaustive geophysical testing and analysis that was verified by the PUC’s Investigation & Enforcement division and their experts, which was the basis for the PUC’s 5-0 decision to return the line to service.

We will pursue all legal remedies to overturn this Order, including our right to request PUC review of the Order, which will be filed within the next seven days.

Regarding ME2 and 2X, we will continue with construction in all areas along the route except for the 3.5-mile segment that runs through West Whiteland Township. ME2 is 98 percent complete with 94 percent of the HDDs completed or underway. We remain focused on the safe construction of the line and do not anticipate that this Order will affect our stated in service timeline to place ME2 into service in the third quarter of 2018.

Today’s Order is a significant departure from the law and the due process procedures that the PUC follows in rendering decisions. Judicial decisions must be based on facts and evidence—not conjecture or extrajudicial claims and issues that are not within the record, but only appear in an order for the first time. The entire energy industry should be concerned about today’s Order and consider this result when making decisions regarding future capital investments in the state as it upends Pennsylvania’s entire regulatory environment.
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By sandbagger2
JUNE 05, 2018 | 09:33 PM
Chester County commissioners slam Sunoco for ‘appalling’ lack of pipeline information
Letter urges PUC to uphold judge's order halting Mariner East construction
Jon Hurdle

In March, residents of Chester County’s West Whiteland Township pressed pipeline regulators for answers on Sunoco’s Mariner East construction after it produced sink holes behind some local homes.
Chester County commissioners slammed Sunoco Pipeline on Tuesday, accusing it of withholding emergency planning information from officials of towns where the Mariner East 2 pipeline will run, prioritizing profit over safety, and creating mistrust among residents who fear for their safety if the pipeline leaks or explodes.

In a letter to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, the commissioners urged it to uphold a judge’s recent order that would suspend construction of the pipeline in Chester County’s West Whiteland Township while halting operation of an existing pipeline that runs along the same right-of-way.

The three commissioners said Sunoco’s reluctance to share emergency planning information with all appropriate local officials has created a “gravely dangerous situation” in which residents are left to find their own details on evacuation plans in the event of a pipeline emergency — information that is often misleading and incorrect.

“We are deeply troubled by Sunoco’s lack of transparent approach to this critical safety information, hampering our Department of Emergency Services and local first responders from doing their job,” the letter said.

It said the commissioners find it “appalling” that Sunoco has failed to proactively share its own risk assessment with the appropriate first responders.

The assessment has been seen by the county’s Department of Emergency Services only after a briefing was requested, and only after officials signed a non-disclosure agreement that stopped them from discussing the assessment with anyone outside the briefing, the letter said.

Sunoco has yet to share another document, its Integrity Management Plan, with the county’s Department of Emergency Services after two canceled briefings over more than three months, the commissioners said.

They said emergency officials have learned about pipeline issues mostly through local media reports and community members.

Emergency officials have tried to reassure the public that they are trained to respond to hazardous materials accidents, but many residents have taken little comfort from that, the commissioners said, because the officials are limited by the non-disclosure agreements about the information they can share with the public.

“Simply put, without more publicly accessible information about the pipelines and the products conveyed in them, the Department of Emergency Services and local first responders cannot dispel residents’ fears about being safe in their own homes,” the letter said.

Community groups opposing the pipeline have long argued that there will be a public safety risk when the pipeline starts carrying liquefied propane, ethane, and butane. Any leak could create a highly explosive vapor cloud that would not immediately disperse because it is heavier than air, and which could threaten widespread casualties in Philadelphia’s densely populated western suburbs, they say.

The commissioners’ letter sharply escalates public criticism of the Mariner East project in Chester County, where Sunoco hit an aquifer during drilling last summer, and where sinkholes appeared at Lisa Drive in West Whiteland Township starting late last year. The PUC, citing the risk of a “catastrophic” event, halted the operation in March for a safety inspection, and allowed it to resume in early May.

But on May 24, Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Barnes again suspended construction in West Whiteland Township, saying there was an imminent risk to public safety because the construction was taking place alongside the active Mariner East 1 pipeline, and that both were running through unstable geology.

The full PUC will decide whether to uphold the judge’s order, and is expected to announce its decision at a public meeting on June 14.

The commissioners said some Sunoco representatives and contractors had tried to address community concerns, but the issues raised should be addressed by Sunoco’s senior management, not their employees on the ground.

The letter was especially critical of Sunoco’s leadership, which it said “has shown no regard for the extensive and unreasonable impact pipeline construction is having throughout Chester County or for the fear Mariner East has sown in our communities about the risk of a pipeline accident.”

Sunoco did not immediately respond to the letter. It says its pipeline construction meets or exceeds state and federal regulatory requirements.
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By sandbagger2
Middletown to Pa.: Stop pipeline construction
By Bill Rettew,

MIDDLETOWN >> Council, and several of 11 speakers during the public comment portion of Monday’s meeting, addressed water company Aqua’s May 21 strike of the under-construction Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline with a backhoe.

Council President Mark Kirchgasser didn’t mince words while reading a board sponsored statement which supported the need for an ongoing investigation by the Public Utility Commission.

“It is evident to council from the events of recent weeks that ETP (Sunoco or Energy Transfer Partners) appears to be more interested in the expedient installation of ME2 than in protecting Middletown’s residents and maintaining their trust,” read Kirchgasser. “The citizens of Middletown Township have a right to expect excellence in all aspects of the installation and maintenance of the ME2 pipelines.

“This includes insuring that the lines, once installed, are protected from damage of any type.”

The Mariner East 2 is a 350-mile pipeline that would carry gas liquids across the state of Pennsylvania, terminating at the former Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook.

Aqua officials maintain that contractor Brubacher was given incorrect information by Sunoco concerning the depth of the pipeline.

The township instructed Manager Andrew Haines to draft a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf and the PUC requesting an immediate halt to pipeline construction on Mariner East 3 in the township.

“We ask that the PUC, holding jurisdiction in this instance, rigorously investigate this accident and if satisfied, subsequently hold ETP to the highest regulatory standards available,” Kirchgasser read from the statement. “This accident is wholly unacceptable and could have been prevented had ETP, Aqua, and their respective agents communicated and performed properly with commonly accepted best practices.

“We ask for the state’s intervention to ensure these criteria are met.”

Resident George Siter lauded council for seeking accountability and “standing up and protecting this township.”

A couple of public speakers said the action by the board was overdue but were still pleased.

“The installation is just the first step and it doesn’t necessarily protect our safety,” said a resident. “I think the best action is to shut this project down completely.”

Bibianna Duessling said she was “disgusted” by how the township found out about the strike. Council first heard about it 17 days after it happened on Facebook.

“I imagine the effort it took to conceal that information for 17 days,” Kirchgasser said. Solicitor Joe Damico Jr. told Duessling that it was premature to file a formal complaint with the PUC since, to date, Sunoco ETP has been in compliance.

“There has not been a violation,” Damico said he was told. “They’ve been responsive.”

Several residents also complained about water, drilling fluid and flooding near the Tunbridge Apartments.

Resident JoAnn Williams said she feels like she’s living at a truck stop.

“It’s a noisy industrial area with pipes standing up and trucks everywhere,” she said. “No sane person would allow this to happen.

“I would definitely pay higher taxes than compromise the safety of our citizens.”

Resident James Kishwick told council that the information it is receiving has to be taken with a grain of salt and is not timely.

George Alexander, speaking for Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety, provided this statement after the meeting: “We are glad that the Middletown Township Council has recognized the seriousness of the threat posed by the Mariner East pipelines and is asking the PUC to call a halt until a thorough safety review can be done. The pipeline strike by an Aqua contractor, and the failure of both Aqua and Sunoco to notify the township, has revealed the kinds of failure in both the construction and regulatory processes that could easily lead to a catastrophe in the future.”

Randall Sampson said he’s entered into an agreement of sale for his home with the value of the property at $40,000 less than it was formerly worth.

“All it is going to take is one accident when it’s energized and we’ll have no community,” Sampson said.
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By sandbagger2
West Chester School District
ScreenHunter 141.jpg
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By sandbagger2
Delco moves forward on pipeline risk assessment study
By Kathleen E. Carey, Delaware County Daily Times

MEDIA >> Delaware County Council moved a step forward in hiring a firm to do a risk analysis of two pipelines planned for Delaware County.

After weeks of delays, council reached a consensus Wednesday and voted 3-0 to move forward with a request for proposal for an expert to conduct a pipeline hazard analysis on the Mariner East 2 and Adelphia lines.

The Mariner East projects intend to move 700,000 barrels of propane, butane and ethane from the Marcellus and Utica shales to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex for storage and distribution domestically and throughout the world.

The Adelphia Gateway project is converting an existing 50 miles of pipeline from oil to natural gas. The 84-mile line originally moved oil from Marcus Hook to Martins Creek. In 1996, the Interstate Energy Company converted the northern 34 miles of the line for natural gas delivery. As part of the project, an above-ground gas valve facility will be built in Concord.

On Wednesday, councilmen Michael Culp, Kevin Madden and Brian Zidek voted to revise the scope of the analysis proposal to focus on Mariner East 2 and Adelphia only, as opposed to the initial bid that would have looked at all the pipelines in the county. Council Vice Chairman Colleen Morrone was absent and council Chairman John McBlain abstained as his law firm, Swartz Campbell, has done work for Sunoco although he himself has not. McBlain said an inquiry has been placed into the state Ethics Commission for their official position.

“We’re talking about a pipeline, in the case of Mariner East 2, that’s somewhere between 95 and 98 percent of the way complete already,” Madden said. “I think it is crucially important as we said over and over again that this be an expedited process.”

Since the beginning of the year, council has been working out the details of hiring a consultant to perform a risk assessment.

After putting out a request, it received one expert who met the specifications of that – Quest Consultants. However, several issues arose with that firm, particularly that it had performed work for a group opposed to the pipeline and that it did not provide its cost structure or analysis.

On Wednesday, council agree to change the scope of the proposal to focus only on the two pipelines, allowing for other potential firms to bid the work.

“One of the actions we are taking today is to ... clarify or to revise the scope of the rfp,” Zidek said.

In addition, he said it permitted county Emergency Services Director Timothy Boyce to have some discretion in the information gathering process.

“I hope that this facilitates both a greater response from potential type of applicants for this work and also helps to address some of the concerns that have been previously raised by council,” Zidek said.

McBlain praised his colleagues.

“I did want to thank council for their efforts,” he said. “They put a lot of effort into this over the last couple of weeks and before that, towards reaching something that could move forward today.”

George Alexander, a Media resident, also approved of council’s action.

“I want to commend council with moving forward with the hazard analysis,” he said. “I would like to emphasize the urgency of getting this done because we are in danger of having an active, large, hazardous pipeline running before we understand what the risks and the response to those risks ought to be. This does need to move forward quickly.”
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By sandbagger2
JULY 17, 2018 | 02:08 PM
Independent study examining public safety risks of Mariner East pipelines
Community group commissions ‘quantitative risk analysis’ after county council deadlocks on proposal
Jon Hurdle

Will a natural gas liquids pipeline expose the public to the risks of a catastrophic explosion if it leaks in densely populated areas? Or will the pipeline be invisible, highly regulated, and no more dangerous than the pipelines that have been carrying oil or natural gas beneath the suburbs for decades?

Advocates for each point of view remain poles apart as Sunoco nears completion of its Mariner East 2 pipeline, the first stage of a multibillion-dollar project to pump ethane, propane and butane in highly pressurized form across southern Pennsylvania.

In the latest attempt to settle the debate, an independent consultant is conducting an assessment of the hazards involved in carrying highly volatile liquids such as NGLs, the chances of the pipeline failing, and the consequences for residents if it did. The measurements will contribute to a “quantitative risk analysis” that will attach a numeric risk to people living near the pipeline.

The study is being done by Quest Consultants, an Oklahoma company with a 30-year record of assessing risk for the petrochemical industry. The company said its analysis will include an examination of Sunoco’s pipeline safety record compared with other operators, and will use modeling software to evaluate vapor dispersion, fire radiation, and vapor cloud explosion hazards.

The measurement of risk will be based on analysis of three locations along the pipeline route, and will depend on variables including the size of a pipeline hole, wind speed and direction, and whether nearby residents are indoors or outdoors.

The calculated risk will be compared with other commonly understood risks such as car accidents or lightning strikes, Quest said in a description of its work.

The company started work at the end of June and is expected to take about six weeks to deliver a draft report.

It was hired at a cost of about $50,000 by Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety, a coalition of community groups in Delaware and Chester Counties that has been among those calling for a complete halt to construction. The group insists its concerns about the pipeline are based on evidence, not baseless fear.

Del-Chesco said it ordered the assessment because it wanted an independent, unbiased study that would clearly quantify the project’s risks for the public and policymakers.

“This risk assessment is intended to inform government decision makers and the public about the magnitude of the risk which Sunoco proposes to impose on them,” the group said in a statement.

The same company did another risk assessment of the pipeline in early 2017 for the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety, a Delaware County group that is part of Del-Chesco. Its worst-case scenario concluded that a “catastrophic rupture” of the pipe could result in a “jet fire” spreading up to 1,100 feet downwind of a leak, causing “serious burns” to anyone in its path.

In the distance, construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline at Raystown Lake Recreation Area in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.

The study fueled claims that Mariner East 2 will represent a grave risk to the safety of schools, businesses and community centers near the pipeline. Those fears have been stoked by dozens of drilling mud spills during construction, and by the violations that continue to be issued by the Department of Environmental Protection even after three forced construction shutdowns and a $12.6 million fine for what the DEP called “egregious” environmental violations.

But Sunoco insists that its pipeline will be safe and meets or exceeds all state and federal regulations.

“We have conducted all the required assessments of this pipeline in coordination with the appropriate regulatory bodies,” said Vicki Granado, a spokeswoman for Sunoco’s parent, Energy Transfer Partners.

“We have included enhanced maintenance and operational systems that go above and beyond those regulations in many cases. There are multiple pipelines running through these counties that are safely carrying natural gas or natural gas liquids at this very moment. They safely pass close to schools, hospitals, senior living facilities and homes, and have done so for many decades,” she said.

Sunoco says the much delayed Mariner East 2 will begin operation in the third quarter of this year, aided by the temporary deployment of about 25 miles of older, parallel pipeline in areas where construction is unfinished.

According to the Public Utility Commission, Sunoco sent out mailings last year to some 66,000 people to alert them to the possible hazards of the pipeline. Recipients included property owners, schools, emergency responders, and excavating companies.

But the company has been accused of withholding information about risk and emergency planning. In June, the Chester County Commission said it was “deeply troubled” by Sunoco’s lack of transparency with safety information, and accused it of prioritizing profit over safety.

The new risk assessment was first proposed for Delaware County Council, which asked Quest for an outline but was then unable to agree on whether to move ahead after some council members said the Middletown study showed the company was biased.

Del-Chesco took over the Quest proposal but the council is now considering a bid from another risk-assessment consultant, and is expected to vote on the new proposal later in July.

Councilman Brian Zidek, a Democrat who previously urged the council to accept the Quest proposal, acknowledged the possibility that a new assessment will overlap with the Quest study for Del-Chesco, but argued that the community has yet to consider the hazards of the project as well as benefits like job creation.

He said the colorless, odorless and heavier-than-air NGLs that will be carried by the pipeline appear to represent a different level of threat from existing natural gas or oil lines, and so should be subject to the proposed risk analysis.

“We invited this pipeline into our community. Maybe we should have, maybe we shouldn’t have, but in order to make that determination, one should weigh both the pros and the cons, and to date we have only looked at the pros,” he said.

He said government, whether at state or local level, has a responsibility to assess safety if there are genuine concerns that the public is at risk.

“It’s beyond me how government could not take a look at how dangerous this pipeline might be,” said Zidek, who donated about $1,500 to the Del-Chesco study after the council deadlocked on whether to move ahead with the Quest proposal.

Asked whether it’s too late to be studying the risk when the pipeline is more than 90 percent constructed, Zidek said the public and emergency officials still need to know how to respond to any emergency when the pipeline starts operating.

“You don’t want to stick your head in the sand and say well, ‘I don’t want to understand the nature of the risk because I can’t reverse the creation of this pipeline,’” he said.

Colleen Morrone, a Republican councilwoman who voted against the Quest proposal, did not respond to a request for comment.

Timothy Boyce, Delaware County’s director of emergency services, echoed the call for an independent risk assessment. “Whether you believe that pipelines are intrinsically safe, or you have a question, the public does have a concern,” he said. “We can always disagree but when a large number of people just don’t have confidence, it’s incumbent upon us to try and build that trust.”

Advocates for a risk study including state Senator Andy Dinniman (D., Chester County) have said it should be done by the Public Utility Commission, as the agency responsible for pipeline safety.

“So far, our state government agencies have failed to answer those questions or to get the necessary information from Sunoco to sufficiently answer them,” said Dinniman, an outspoken critic of Sunoco whose complaints to the PUC prompted the current shutdown of construction in Chester County’s West Whiteland Township.

Asked whether the PUC has ruled out doing its own risk assessment, a spokesman said only that the agency is dealing with Dinniman’s formal complaint over ME2 at West Whiteland, and requires numerous filings from Sunoco before it can resume construction there. The PUC’s pipeline safety division has devoted significant time over the past several years to the construction and operation of the Mariner East lines, the spokesman said.

J.J. Abbott, a spokesman for Gov. Tom Wolf, also avoided saying whether the Governor has ruled out a risk assessment by state authorities.

“Governor Wolf is confident that the PUC will continue to appropriately assess risk and manage safety for all pipelines and other utility infrastructure in Pennsylvania,” Abbott said.
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By sandbagger2
DEP raps Sunoco for pipeline woes in Aston
The Elwyn property off Judy Way in Aston, where Sunoco has been cited for another problem connected with construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline.
The Elwyn property off Judy Way in Aston, where Sunoco has been cited for another problem connected with construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline. DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA
By Bill Rettew,
ASTON >> The state Department of Environmental Protection Friday issued a notice of violation against Sunoco Pipeline for “unlawful conduct” after a sewage pipeline was damaged July 11 near a property operated by Elwyn in the township.

Students and staffers were evacuated after the compromised line caused flooding in incident at the Elwyn workshop for persons with developmental challenges located at 1 Judy Way.

“Our investigation revealed that the facility’s sewage lateral had been damaged as a result of activities being performed by an employee representing Sunoco Pipeline L.P.,” reads a notice of violation written by Michael J. McAdams, Water Quality Specialist with Clean Water.

A spokesperson for Sunoco Pipeline denied that workers struck a sewer pipe, instead saying this was another instance of an inadvertent return of a small amount of drilling fluid.

The incident was “a small amount of drilling fluid (naturally occurring bentonite clay and water mixture) that migrated into a sewage pipe nearby one of our HDD operations,” said Lisa Dillinger. “We did not hit the pipe. The 6-inch cast iron sewage pipe had an improperly sealed 4-inch PVC pipe sleeved inside it, and it was between that gap that the drilling fluid traveled.

“We are voluntarily replacing the sewer discharge line at our expense.”

The unpermitted discharge of sewage into waters of the Commonwealth violated the Clean Streams Law and constitutes “unlawful conduct,” reads the notice. The missive also noted that DEP was not immediately notified by telephone of the discharge, which might lead to an assessment of civil penalties.

Mallory Spencer lives in Rose Valley. Her brother is a client at Elwyn. He works at the site on Judy Way, 50 feet from the Mariner East 2 pipeline construction.

“This incident demonstrates the very real challenge of evacuating vulnerable populations, including those like my brother, who are physically or developmentally challenged,” Spencer said. “Imagine if the leak had been highly volatile ethane, rather than sewage?

“Or if the leak had resulted in an explosion mere feet from this work site for developmentally disabled residents?”

Spencer chastised Sunoco for not reporting the incident.

“And once again, Sunoco failed to self-report their error,” she said. “Parents of impacted clients at the center were the ones who reported the incident to elected officials and to the DEP.

“This is just further evidence that Sunoco cannot be trusted and cannot guarantee the safety of residents from this reckless and dangerous pipeline that poses a constant risk to a vulnerable public.”

State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161, who represents that portion of Aston Township, also took Sunoco to task.

“I first learned about this incident when a family member of a client at Elwyn Industries called to tell me that individuals with intellectual and/or physical disabilities had to be evacuated from the building,” Krueger-Braneky said. “Public safety is my upmost concern and we have a responsibility to make sure everyone along the path of this project is protected.

“The fact that Sunoco Logistics is being cited for not reporting an incident that had a direct impact on vulnerable citizens makes me very concerned.”

DEP requested that within 10 days of receipt of the notice that Sunoco provide a description of the circumstances that caused the incident, along with the date and times, and Sunoco’s actions to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

Middletown Coalition for Public Safety spokesperson Eric Friedman released the following statement Friday afternoon: “This is the latest in a long string of Sunoco accidents, and it demonstrates yet again a clear pattern of reckless operations and willful noncompliance with reporting requirements. Worse, this accident shows the difficulty inherent in evacuating dense, vulnerable populations. Had the spilled material been ethane rather than raw sewage, the consequences could have been catastrophic. The Middletown Coalition for Community Safety calls on Gov. Wolf to act now to protect the people of Pennsylvania from the safety risks and economic harm of this ill-conceived project.”

Sunoco Pipeline is building Mariner East 2 to transport hundreds of thousands of barrels a day of highly volatile gases such as ethane, butane and propane from the state’s Marcellus Shale region to a facility in Marcus Hook. It will cut through the heart of Chester County and an 11-mile stretch of western Delaware County.

Sunoco has said the pipeline is 95 percent complete and is pushing to finish the project to get it online. Last week the state gave the company the green light to resume construction in West Whiteland, where sinkholes had developed believed linked to Mariner East 2 construction.
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