Marcellus Ethane/Propane Pipelines More Dangerous than Expected

by Duane Nichols on July 22, 2018

Mariner East 2 Pipeline in East Goshen Twp. PA

Shell granted request for extension for Falcon Pipeline information

From an Article by Paul J. Gough, Pittsburgh Business Journal, June 27, 2018

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has granted Shell Pipeline Co. LP’s request for an extension of time to respond to technical deficiency letters it sent over its permit application for the 97-mile Falcon Pipeline.

PA-DEP granted the request June 21 to allow Shell Pipeline to have until August 1 to submit responses to two types of letters that asked for more information about Shell’s plans for Falcon, which will connect the ethane supplies in Ohio and Pennsylvania to the giant petrochemical plant Shell is building in Potter Township.

In its June 1 letters to Shell Pipeline, PA-DEP asked for generally technical notes about the permit applications for pipeline construction in several townships in Washington, Allegheny and Beaver counties. Shell told the Business Times in a statement Monday that it would comply with the requests for information and was committed to working with regulators.

A Shell official last week said it was expecting to get the permits required from the PA- DEP by the third quarter and construction would begin in 2019 and end later that year.

A PA-DEP spokeswoman told the Business Times that technical deficiencies weren’t uncommon for a project of Falcon’s size.


DEP wants more information from Shell on ethane pipeline

Article by Paul J. Gough, Pittsburgh Business Journal, June 25, 2018

Shell Pipeline Co. said it’s working with Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection officials following the PA-DEP’s sending of three technical deficiency letters to Shell in the permitting process of the Falcon Pipeline.

Shell received so-called technical deficiency letters for the three-county route of the Falcon Pipeline, which will carry ethane from the MarkWest Houston fractionation plant to a Raccoon Township hub and, from there, to the Royal Dutch Shell petrochemical plant under construction in Potter Township.

PA-DEP identified what it called “serious technical deficiencies” in the plan for Findlay and North Fayette townships in Allegheny County; Chartiers, Mount Pleasant and Robinson townships in Washington County; and Greene, Independence, Potter and Raccoon townships in Beaver County. PA-DEP’s review and approval of Shell’s permit to build the 97-mile pipeline, which includes a section in Pennsylvania, is required before construction can begin.

In a statement Monday, Shell said it was committed to working with the PA-DEP and other regulators on the permitting process.

“As is common in such a comprehensive permitting process, the review identified areas where the agency would like additional data. We appreciate the PA-DEP’s feedback and will work diligently to ensure PA-DEP has the necessary information upon which to base its decision,” Shell said.

Shell is required to address each of PA-DEP’s points in all three letters within 60 days of the date of the letters, which were June 1.

Some of the PA-DEP’s concerns included the potential discharge of stormwater or wastewater, the impact of open-cut pipeline construction methods, the location of the centerline of the pipeline at a location that had been previously mined, and whether the construction would impact the nesting of the Northern Harrier, a type of hawk.

While not specifically addressing the PA-DEP concerns, the head of the pipeline project for Shell Pipeline told an industry conference that he expected receiving the necessary pipeline permits in the third quarter. It wasn’t clear whether the PA-DEP letters would change that time line.


Another section of Mariner East 1 pipeline exposed in Uwhclan Township

Article from Digital First Media, Local Daily News, West Chester (PA), July 20, 2018

WEST CHESTER  —  “The perils of the pipeline continue to pile up.”

Mariner East 1, the old, existing pipeline that was retrofitted by Sunoco Logistics to carry natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region to Marcus Hook – and which was exposed in a section of West Whiteland – has now been exposed in a second area of Chester County.

State Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19 of West Goshen said Thursday that Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) officials have confirmed that the 87-year-old Mariner East 1 (ME1) pipeline has been exposed near Crump Road in Uwchlan Township.

Dinniman said his office reported the issue to the PUC after being notified by local residents and seeing reports on social media. In response, PUC officials indicated that they had been aware of the pipeline being exposed in the Uwchlan area after being informed by the company and that they instructed Sunoco to monitor the situation. Apparently neither entity notified officials in Uwchlan Township. The PUC indicated there was “no imminent danger” to the public from the exposed pipe.

“PUC Pipeline Safety is investigating and has data requests in to Sunoco requesting additional information on this section of line,” said PUC spokesman David Hixson in a statement. “Pipeline safety inspectors have been on site, conducted their own inspections and reviewed records.”

PUC officials also said they had notified the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and would investigate the claims to ensure that this was not a new exposure.

“At this point, you’d think that nothing could shock me when it comes to the Mariner East project, but I’m astonished by the latest turn of events and the seemingly inexplicable lack of action from our state government agencies,” said Dinniman, one of the fiercest and most outspoken critics of Sunoco’s multi-billion-dollar pipeline project. “Basically, it sounds like the PUC has known for some time that an active, hazardous material pipeline is exposed to the surface in a residential area and has done nothing about it except to instruct Sunoco to ‘monitor’ the situation. If that’s not letting the fox guard the henhouse, I don’t know what is.”

Dinniman pointed out that it was just last month that the PUC gave the green light to allow Sunoco to resume operations on the ME1 after it was halted by an administrative law judge due to safety concerns raised in his complaint. The shutdown occurred after sinkholes developed in a West Whiteland neighborhood as part of the construction of Mariner East 2 that exposed the older pipeline.

Eventually, Sunoco expects Mariner East 1 and 2 to transport as much as 650,000 barrels a day of volatile gases such as ethane, butane and propane the width of the state to the former Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook. Once there it will be stored and then shipped, mostly to overseas markets.

Mariner East 2 will traverse about 23 miles through the heart of central Chester County and another 11 miles in western Delaware County.

The project, which Sunoco says is 95 percent complete, has sparked intense community opposition and been plagued with spills and runoff problems, in addition to the sinkholes. Construction on the project has been halted twice by state regulators.

Dinniman remains outraged at this latest problem. “The question here is: What did the PUC know and when did they know it? Did PUC officials allow operations to resume on Mariner East 1, knowing it was exposed to the surface in one of our residential neighborhoods?” Dinniman asked. “And that’s just the beginning. Has the property owner and other nearby residents been notified? Have other protocols been followed? Keep in mind, when Mariner East 1 was exposed earlier this year, the PUC suspended its operations within days. Why has that not been done this time?

“Whatever the case, I will demand answers to these and other questions as the very health, safety, and well-being of my constituents is at stake.”

Dinniman said his office also has notified the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as the exposed pipe appears to be in an unnamed tributary of the Valley Creek.

Based on his conversations with residents, Dinniman believes homeowners near the site were not notified of the exposure and only learned of it when looking into water issues apparently related to disturbances to a stream from pipeline activities.

Since then, residents have reported that Sunoco has attempted to block the view or access to the exposure site with wooden boards, plastic sheeting and fencing.

“When Mariner East 1 was exposed back in March, it was a major concern to our state agencies,” Dinniman said. “The PUC Bureau of Enforcement and Inspection was at the site and the next day the operation of the pipeline was shut down. But now, for some reason, this exposure is treated like an afterthought. The pipeline appears to be sitting exposed practically on the surface for weeks or more with no action, no notification, and no response. And when we do get the PUC’s attention, the only response seems to be having Sunoco try to hide the problem from view.”

The ME1 pipeline, which dates back to 1931, originally carried petroleum products from the port at Marcus Hook to western Pennsylvania. Today, it is permitted to carry liquid propane, butane, and ethane in the opposite direction.

Sunoco is building two new additional pipelines, Mariner East 2 (ME2) and Mariner East 2X (ME2x) in the same right-of-way, as well as seeking to activate and repurpose an existing 12-inch petroleum pipeline to carry liquid natural gas products in Chester and Delaware Counties.

Since the beginning, the Mariner East project has been beset with problems:

• Last summer, drilling activities in West Whiteland Township damaged an aquifer, causing water-quality issues in dozens of nearby residential wells.

• In January, after numerous violations, DEP suspended construction permits for Mariner East 2 across the state.

• In February, DEP and Sunoco reached a settlement agreement with Sunoco that included a $12.6 million fine.

• In March, multiple sinkholes appeared on Lisa Drive in West Whiteland, threatening private homes and leading to the evacuation of at least one family.

• Later that month, the PUC suspended operations of ME1 finding that “permitting continued flow of hazardous liquids through the ME1 pipeline without proper steps to ensure the integrity of the pipeline could have catastrophic results impacting the public.”

• In April, Senator Dinniman brought a formal complaint and petition for emergency relief before the PUC to halt operations of ME1, and construction on ME2 and ME2X in West Whiteland.

• In May, the PUC allowed Sunoco to resume operations on ME1.

• Later that month, a PUC judge sided with Dinniman, halting all three pipelines in West Whiteland.

• In June, the PUC maintained the shutdown of ME2 and ME2X but allowed operations to resume on ME1.

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Shale Gas Reporter July 25, 2018 at 10:36 am

Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline receives notices from PA-DEP

From an Update by Sara Welch, Shale Gas Reporter, July 24, 2018

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued another notice of violation to Energy Transfer Partners LP’s Sunoco Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline for spilling drilling fluid in a wetland.

The notification marked the 65th from the PA-DEP since construction on the project began in February 2017. The PA-DEP is following the same procedure it did with the other notices and requiring ETP to provide a report describing how it will clean the spill, among other things, before it will allow the company to restart drilling at the site.

Due to the stoppages, ETP had to move its completion date for the Mariner East 2 project from the third quarter of 2017 to the third quarter of 2018.


Penna. DEP August 9, 2018 at 6:18 pm

Department of Environmental Protection
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120


CONTACT: Neil Shader, PA DEP, 717-787-1323

PA DEP Assesses $148,000 Penalty Against Sunoco for Mariner East 2 Violations in Berks, Chester and Lebanon Counties

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has assessed a $148,000 penalty against Sunoco Pipeline LP (Sunoco) for violations of the Clean Streams Law and Dam Safety and Encroachment Act that occurred during the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Berks, Chester, and Lebanon counties.

In all three counties, Sunoco impacted the private water supplies of several citizens by causing cloudy, turbid, discolored and/or lost water in their wells, in addition to causing pollution and potential pollution to waters of the commonwealth. In Chester County, Sunoco also failed to immediately notify DEP of the adverse impacts to the private water supplies.

“Sunoco’s actions violated the law and will not be tolerated,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Sunoco cannot impact water supplies. If it does, Sunoco must address those impacts to the satisfaction of the water supply’s owner, including replacement or restoration of the impacted water supply.”

The collected penalty will be divided and deposited into the Clean Water Fund and the Dams and Encroachments Fund.

“No company is above the law. Sunoco must comply with all conditions in its permits,” said McDonnell. “DEP will continue to monitor Sunoco’s compliance with those conditions and take all steps necessary to ensure Sunoco complies with its permits and the law.”

Additional information, including the Consent Assessment of Civil Penalty and supporting documents, can be found on the Mariner East 2 page of the DEP website:


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