Mariner East 2 Being Seriously Questioned: Problems & Risks

by admin on April 29, 2019

Sink holes continue on Mariner East Pipeline?

Editorial: The Pipeline People are Back in Town

Essay by the Editors, Delaware County Times, April 25, 2019

You don’t have to remind the folks in the Andover development out in Thornbury that the pipeline people are back in town. All you have to do is stop at the red light at the intersection of Routes 926 and 352 and roll down the window.

Brace yourself. We’re not talking about noise here. This is more like a din. And it is right in their backyard. We’re not talking yards; we’re talking feet.

Construction on the massive Mariner East 2 project restarted a few weeks ago. While the majority of the 20-inch pipe that will carry hundreds of thousands of barrels of highly volatile liquid gas across the 350-mile width of Pennsylvania to a facility in Marcus Hook is nearly complete, several sections in this area remain to be completed.

The noise is ungodly, to say nothing of having your backyard turned into a construction site. It’s a safe guess that most of the people in this development never realized the easements on the property would result in what they have today, their bucolic community and landscapes scarred by pipeline construction.

They talk about the noise, and their homes literally shaking when drilling is taking place, glasses and dishes in cupboards literally rattling. Then there is their concerns about their property values, what would happen if they were to try to sell their expensive homes at some point in the future. Forget about trying to sell them now.

But all of that pales next to the fear of what will be moving through those pipelines, and what could happen in the event of a spill or other incident. The butane, ethane and propane being ferried from the Marcellus Shale regions is a far cry from the old petroleum materials that at one time coursed through the vast network of pipelines that crisscross the region.

Residents have questions about what might happen, first responders have questions, local officials have questions. What they don’t have are a lot of answers. Specifically, they don’t have a question to the one unspoken question that remains on everyone’s mind: What if?

The multi-billion dollar enterprise being built by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners and their local affiliates, Sunoco Pipeline LP and Sunoco Logistics, has it boosters, including the chamber of commerce and labor unions who like the solid jobs it brings with them. They don’t have to live with it in their backyard.

This week residents’ concerns ticked up again with word that Mariner East 1, an older, smaller pipeline that was retrofitted to handle the liquid gases, was going back on line. It had been shut down for three months since sinkholes appeared in a West Whiteland neighborhood – for the second time.

State regulators signed off on the restart, but not before slapping several conditions on ETP, including closer monitoring of Mariner East 1 operations and more soil and ground testing in the area to determine the cause of the sinkholes.

The legions of pipeline foes are not thrilled at the aspect of the old pipeline – Mariner East 1 first went into service in 1931, handling these volatile materials at high pressure. Both state regulators and ETP officials stress the 8-inch pipeline is safe and has been adequately tested.

Mariner East 2, a 20-inch pipe that will greatly increase the amount of materials moving through the line, was put online the last week of December, but not in the form originally proposed. Because of a series of spills, runoffs and work shutdowns, the company had to resort to filling in the gaps with older, smaller pipes. The complete Mariner East 2 now is not expected to be completed until 2020. A third pipeline, Mariner East 2X, also is being constructed.

It’s just part of the problems that have plagued the project, something even ETP officials admit has been a problem in Pennsylvania, though they stop well short of what is being suggested by district attorneys in the region. Chester County D.A. Tom Hogan has initiated a criminal investigation of the construction of Mariner East and is impaneling an investigative grand jury to hear testimony and consider the possibility of charges. Delaware County D.A. Katayoun Copeland and state Attorney General Josh Shapiro are conducting a joint investigation of the project.

In the case of the now restarted Mariner East 1, ETP said it worked closely with state Public Utility Commission investigators, who confirmed the safety of the project. “The investigation also confirmed that at no time was Mariner East 1 ever destabilized in this area,” ETP said of the area affected by the sinkholes.

That in general seems to be the tenor of state oversight of this project. They are always getting involved after an incident. Residents are left to wonder who thought this was a good idea – pushing 675,000 barrels of volatile liquid gases through densely populated schools, right next to homes, schools and senior centers, was a good idea.

RW: If you don’t believe it, just ask the folks out in Andover!


Sinkhole forms in Delaware County along pipeline route |, April 25, 2019


Range Resources hints at new East Coast liquids terminal for exports, Kallanish Energy News, April 24, 2019


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