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, firstname.lastname@example.org
POSTED: 08/11/18, 5:18 PM EDT | UPDATED: 8 HRS AGO 0 COMMENTS
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.