Mariner East 2 Pipeline & Marcus Hook Process Facility Update

by Duane Nichols on January 14, 2019

Marcus Hook Refinery being modified to process hydrocarbons from natural gas

Penna. environmental board slams Sunoco air-quality permit

From an Article by Bill Rettew, Delaware County Times, January 10, 2019

PHILADELPHIA >> A state Environmental Hearing Board ruled the state Department of Environmental Protection unlawfully issued an air-quality permit for Sunoco at its Marcus Hook facility.

The Marcus Hook facility is the end point for Sunoco and Energy Transfer Partners Mariner East 2 pipeline project. The pipeline will deliver hundreds of thousands of barrels of liquid gases such as ethane, butane and propane to the facility every day. Once there, they will be stored and eventually shipped for the most part to overseas destinations.

On Wednesday, the environmental board ruled that DEP unlawfully issued an air-quality permit for natural gas liquids processing equipment at the Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals L.P. facility in Marcus Hook. The processing equipment is designed to handle liquids from the Mariner East pipelines, which run across Pennsylvania. The decision came in response to Clean Air Council’s appeal in April 2016, leading to a trial in May 2018.

Specifically, the board said that DEP was mistaken when it considered various portions of the plan as separate entities. Instead the board noted DEP should have reviewed the project as a whole.

Alex Bomstein, senior litigation attorney for Clean Air Council, hailed the ruling. “The board’s ruling really shows that no one – not even Sunoco – is above the law,” Bomstein said. “The industry’s practice of dividing up big projects into smaller pieces that sneak under pollution thresholds, what we call segmentation, has gone on for too long. This decision is a major step towards restoring the protections that help ensure we have clean air to breathe.”

Sunoco/ETP spokeswoman Lisa Dillinger took a different view of the ruling Thursday. “Today’s ruling has no impact on the construction and operation activities authorized under Plan Approval E while the PA DEP conducts an analysis of the permit, which we feel was permitted correctly,” Dillinger said. “We will work with the PA DEP to provide them with the appropriate information for their review, and we are pleased that the overriding outcome was the Environmental Hearing Board’s denial of the Clean Air Council’s request to revoke the permit.”

The board held that the project in question was really part of an overarching project to transform the former Marcus Hook refinery into a natural gas liquids processing facility. The larger project was unlawfully broken up into smaller projects for the sake of permitting. Where separate construction activities are really all part of the same project, the emissions from all of those projects must be aggregated to determine if more stringent requirements are triggered. Ultimately, the board sent the air permit back to DEP so that DEP can re-evaluate how the project should be permitted.

The board’s decision enhances existing law by providing detailed guidance on when multiple related projects should be considered one project in a review of an air permit application.

“The Environmental Hearing Board’s decision is not only a victory for Clean Air Council, it is a victory for public health and the neighboring communities,” said Joseph Otis Minott, executive director and chief counsel for Clean Air Council. “Too often, big industry players have avoided pollution controls by creating loopholes that jeopardize air quality protections. Sunoco/ETP has been one of the worst offenders in this regard, time and again circumventing the rules and putting the public at risk. The board decision has finally closed this loophole.”

Mariner East 2 is a multi-billion dollar project that will carry liquid gases from the state’s Marcellus Shale regions across the full 350-mile width of Pennsylvania, ending in Marcus Hook. Mariner East 2 is now online, utilizing a mix of different size pipes because of delays and shutdowns on the full, 20-inch pipeline.

The board’s opinion is available in full at:


Editorial: Is it Mariner East 2 Pipeline or ‘Frankenpipe’

From the Delaware County Daily Times, West Chester, PA, January 2, 2019

Sunoco and Energy Transfer Partners decided to ring in the new year with a little announcement.

On a Saturday of a holiday weekend, they announced that their controversial – and much-delayed – Mariner East 2 pipeline was now online and ready to move liquid gases from the state’s Marcellus Shale regions to Marcus Hook.

Don’t expect the fierce critics of this project to be popping any champagne corks at this news. In fact, they are not buying the fact that this is really Mariner East 2, at least the original version Sunoco proposed. And they have a point.

Back in November 2014, Sunoco announced it would build a new, 20-inch pipeline to ferry hundreds of thousands of barrels of liquid natural gases such as ethane, butane and propane the full width of Pennsylvania. The 350-mile trek would emanate from eastern Ohio, traverse the entire width of Pennsylvania, and deliver the goods to a facility at the former Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook, where it would be stored and then shipped out, mostly to foreign destinations.

The line basically followed the path of Mariner East 1, which is the old, original Sunoco petroleum pipeline that was refitted and already moving these highly volatile gases to Marcus Hook.

When fully up and operational, Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners said Mariner East 2 would move hundreds of thousands of barrels of product a day. But Mariner East 2 was billed as a new, state-of-the-art 20-inch pipeline. What went online Saturday was neither of those things.

Construction of Mariner East 2 was plagued from the outset by a series of spills and runoffs. It also was met with fierce community opposition, fueled by the fear of moving these kinds of materials through densely populated neighborhoods, in close proximity to elementary schools and senior centers.

Construction was halted several times by the state, including a major shutdown after sinkholes believed linked to drilling for Mariner East 2 popped up in a neighborhood in West Whiteland, Chester County, at one point actually exposing the old Mariner East 1 pipe.

Despite the delays, Sunoco and ETP remained consistent in their stance that they would have Mariner East 2 online by the end of the year. But in order to do that, they had to alter their plan. The full, 20-inch Mariner East 2 pipeline now is not expected to be completed until 2020. In order to put what the company is referring to as “Mariner East 2″ online, the company is filling in gaps where the 20-inch line has yet to be installed with something of a hybrid mish-mash of different pipelines.

Sunoco vows all the pipes, including one that was first installed eight decades ago, have been tested and deemed safe. It mimics what the company has been saying about construction in general, that they will build and operate Mariner East 2 to the highest standards in the industry.

Its legions of critics aren’t nearly that sure. They are referring to the hybrid line put into service over the weekend as “Frankenpipe.” Pipeline foes have for months now urged anyone who would listen to shut the project down.

A state Public Utility Commission administrative law judge continues to mull a request from residents in Delaware and Chester counties to shut the project down completely. This comes after rejecting an initial plea to halt work.

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced last week that he was opening a criminal investigation into construction of Mariner East 2, in part stemming from the company’s announcement that it would be using several older pipelines in this hybrid mix to get product moving through the line. Hogan also made it clear he was taking the action in part to reassure residents that someone is looking into their concerns and safety, something he suggested state regulatory officials and Gov. Tom Wolf have failed to do.

Tom Casey is a grassroots organizer who has been fighting Sunoco’s plans now for years. He believes the company made the announcement Saturday in order to reassure investors.

“With the announcement of the 12-inch line coming online, Sunoco can now tell their investors that they have fulfilled their promise to have it online by the end of 2018,” Casey said. “But is the service safe and reliable?” It was a concern shared by many.

Fierce critic Mike Walsh did not try to hide his feelings. “With the latest announcement by ETP, the majority of what Sunoco is calling ME2 in Chester and Delaware Counties is not ME2,” Walsh stated. “It’s a cobbled together Frankenpipe composed of a 12-inch, 16-inch and 20-inch lines of which the 12-inch line was installed in the 1930s and has a long history of leaks.”

Two public officials also weighed in on the latest news from Sunoco.

State Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19 of West Whiteland, perhaps the most vehement critic of Mariner East 2, vowed the fight to ensure citizen safety is not over. In fact, he believes it is just beginning. “Our concerns regarding the safety of Sunoco/ETP’s Mariner East project and the lack of adequate emergency planning and response information are now more real than ever.”

State Rep. Chris Quinn, R-168 of Middletown, who won re-election in November despite fierce opposition from those who cited his stance on the pipeline while still a member of the township commissioners, questioned the timing of the announcement. “Using old technology without proper vetting for a project that directly impacts public safety is dangerous and irresponsible,” Quinn said. “And to do it all under the cloak of darkness on a Saturday night raises the question: What is Sunoco hiding?”

Sunoco and Energy Transfer Partners have been successful in getting Mariner East 2 – or at least some version of it – online by their projected date, the start of the new year.

But they still have a long way to go to reassure critics that the project is being done safely, and will be operated in the same way.

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Chester Co. PA January 18, 2019 at 2:00 am

Chester County D.A. rips pipeline worker’s obscene Instagram comment

From Michael Tanenbaum, Philly Voice, January 16, 2019

Amid an ongoing criminal investigation of the Mariner East pipeline construction, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan rebuked a pipeline worker for his obscene Instagram messages directed a concerned resident.

The county launched a broad investigation last month into Sunoco Pipeline’s large-scale projects to complete the contentious Mariner 1, 2 and 2X pipelines, which are set to transfer fuel extracted from the Marcellus shale via fracking in western Pennsylvania to Delaware County’s Marcus Hook Refinery.

Officials are looking into past and future construction of the pipelines, which have been the source of intense battles with residents and the cause of several destructive incidents, opponents allege.

In a notice on Wednesday, Hogan called attention to a December exchange between a pipeline worker and a Chester County resident on Instagram.

The resident, who was not identified, posted several messages about the pipelines and received responses from a pipeline worker using the handle “x_rated_fusion.” Screenshots of the dialogue can be seen below (Note: These messages contain offensive language).

Source/Chester County District Attorney’s Office
Screenshot of Instagram comment from Mariner East pipeline worker.

Source /Chester County District Attorney’s Office
Screenshot of Instagram exchange between Chester County resident and Mariner East pipeline worker.

“This sort of language and behavior is inappropriate and unprofessional,” Hogan said in a statement. “Calling a woman that particular word is incredibly offensive, even if you spell it incorrectly. We will not allow our citizens to be bullied.”
Hogan added that he brought the exchange to the attention of Sunoco and the pipeline worker’s union leaders in Texas and Oklahoma.

Chester County residents have been hard-hit by the controversial project, including reports of sinkholes on private properties in East Whiteland Township and possible contamination of well water for residents in other parts of the county.

A fiery gas line explosion in Beaver County last fall also gave prosecutors evidence of “tangible danger and destruction” caused by the pipeline construction, Hogan said last month.

Potential charges stemming from the investigation could include causing or risking a catastrophe, criminal mischief, environmental crimes and corrupt organizations.

Dallas-based Energy Transfer LP, the parent company of Sunoco Pipeline, has denied the allegations brought forward by Chester County prosecutors.

“We are confident that we have not acted to violate any criminal laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and we are committed to aggressively defending ourselves against these baseless allegations,” spokeswoman Lisa Dillinger said last month.

Hogan has been critical of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration’s oversight of the Mariner East construction. The Pennsylvania DEP has issued more than 80 Notices of Violation to Sunoco Pipeline and collected more than $13 million in penalties for environmental damage, but Hogan believes the state has not gone far enough.

“We understand that only the Pennsylvania Utility Commission or the governor can shut down construction of these pipelines, and neither has shown any inclination to do so,” Hogan said. “But we can at least make sure that anything that happens in Chester County complies with the criminal laws of Pennsylvania.”


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