Mariner East Pipeline Activities Involve Multiple Leaks of Drilling Fluid in S.E. Pennsylvania

by Duane Nichols on August 14, 2020

Photo from West Whiteland Residents for Pipeline Safety

Drilling is stopped after leaks develop along Mariner East pipeline. One is affecting Chester’s Marsh Creek Lake.

From an Article by Frank Kummer, Philadelphia Inquirer, August 11, 2020

Drilling fluid used in Sunoco Pipeline LP’s Mariner East project in Chester County leaked into Marsh Creek Lake in a state park of the same name on Monday — one of three incidents in recent days along the pipeline construction project route.

Virginia Cain, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said the agency is investigating the three incidents, which occurred at two project sites, in West Whiteland and Upper Uwchlan Townships.

The PA-DEP said the first leak occurred on the 100 block of Shoen Road in West Whiteland on Saturday. Both the PD-DEP and the Fish and Boat Commission responded and tested water to see if it contained drilling fluids. Drilling was stopped to await an analysis of the liquid.

If the liquid is found to be that used for drilling, which typically contains bentonite clay and water, the site will be shut down until an application to restart is filed. Usually, the liquid is injected into a bore during the horizontal drilling process. The mixture is not normally hazardous, though environmental groups say it could contain other chemicals.

On Sunday, the same agencies were called after discharges related to the same site were reported “at multiple areas in the West Whiteland Apartment Complex.” The PA-DEP is reviewing permits and plans Sunoco filed pertaining to the location to see if regulations were followed.

Then, on Monday, the PA-DEP was called to another drill site off Green Valley Road in Marsh Creek State Park in Upper Uwchlan. There, drilling fluid leaked into wetlands and a tributary to Marsh Creek Lake, then finally into the lake. Sunoco is working on a cleanup in coordination with the two state agencies.

Environmental groups and residents who have been battling the pipeline for years were outraged. When complete, the pipeline will transport gas liquids, such as propane, ethane, and butane.

The Clean Air Council estimated that 1,000 gallons of the drilling fluid were released into Marsh Creek Lake, which also serves as a drinking water reservoir. The nonprofit environmental organization said the fluid contains chemical additives and can “smother aquatic life.” The group said photographs show “a large plume of gray water snaking hundreds of feet into the lake.”

The potential impact on the overall health of the lake was not immediately clear as of Tuesday. Environmental groups in the past have urged the PA-DEP to prevent Sunoco from drilling near the park because of the risk of spills. “Sunoco again has failed to take seriously the danger its construction poses to drinking water supplies and other water resources,” the Clean Air Council said in a statement.

Alex Bomstein, an attorney at Clean Air Council, said a Sunoco geologist had included in a previous report before drilling began that there was a “moderate to high risk of a spill” in the area.

West Whiteland Residents for Pipeline Safety, a citizens group, posted a picture of muddied water and what it identified as Sunoco workers at the scene.

Ginny Kerslake, a member of the West Whiteland group, said she was at the lake Monday night and again Tuesday. “I have seen it firsthand,” she said of the spill. “Like many people, we frequently enjoy that lake. It’s devastating this has been allowed to happen.”

Marsh Creek State Park is in north-central Chester County. The 1,784-acre park contains the 535-acre Marsh Creek Lake, widely used for fishing and boating.

The pipeline has caused a number of incidents over the years. In July, inspectors found a new series of sinkholes that have opened up along the pipeline’s route in Chester County after cracks were reported in the pavement of Business Route 30 in Exton.


See also: Paddle protest at Marsh Creek Lake calls for Mariner East shutdown, Susan Phillips, StateImpact Pennsylvania, August 11, 2020

As cleanup crews worked to remove thousands of gallons of drilling mud from a Chester County lake on Wednesday, residents gathered to protest the Mariner East pipeline project, citing a litany of environmental damage.

Construction on the line caused about 8,000 gallons of drilling mud to seep into a stream that feeds the lake, which is popular for boating, fishing and birding.

Following a rally on the banks of the 530-acre Marsh Creek Lake, several dozen protesters paddled out to the site of a plume of muddy water caused by nearby horizontal directional drilling (HDD). HDD uses bentonite clay, often referred to as drilling mud, to lubricate a large drill bit that bores beneath the surface, making way for the 20-inch pipe. The project, which is mostly complete, includes three separate pipes that carry natural gas liquids from the shale fields of western Pennsylvania to an export terminal in Delaware County.

Construction of the line has hit several snags in Chester County, where the karst, or limestone geology, creates difficulties for large-scale industrial projects that use underground drilling.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

ABC News 6 Phila. August 17, 2020 at 11:49 pm

PA-DEP investigating spill at the Marine East 2 Pipeline site in Chester County – 6abc Philadelphia

WEST WHITELAND TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is investigating a spill at two Marine East 2 Pipeline sites in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

An unconfirmed amount of drilling fluid has spilled into the wetlands and migrated into Marsh Creek Lake in Upper Uwchlan Township.

The DEP is on scene trying to clean up the spill and the Fish and Boat Commission is assessing the impact on wildlife.

A second issue is also being reported at a drill site in West Whiteland Township.

“The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is actively investigating issues at 2 ETP Mariner East 2 sites in Southeast PA; these sites are known as HDD 360 in West Whiteland Township and HDD 290 in Upper Uwchlan Township. Work at both sites has stopped until further notice as DEP continues its investigations,” said the DEP in a statement.

The Clean Air Council believes that at least 1,000 gallons of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) fluid, has leaked into Marsh Creek Lake.

“More than a year ago, Clean Air Council and allies urged the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to stop Sunoco from going ahead with new HDD plans at Marsh Creek State Park because of the high risk of spills,” said the environmental organization.


Douglas Shields August 27, 2020 at 2:26 am

Mama Bear Brigade Opposes Mariner East Pipeline, August 25, 2020

Early this morning, a handful of local impacted residents bravely shut down Mariner East construction site for about an hour, calling attention to the egregiousness of yesterday’s decision to allow the temporary restart of drilling.

Last night we learned that a judge for the Environmental Hearing Board approved a temporary restart of the Shoen Rd drill site here in West Whiteland, PA, allowing construction BEFORE the full hearing is scheduled for next week.

This site has been the location of 3 shut downs since Energy Transfer first hit the aquifer impacting the private wells of approximately two dozen homes in June 2017.

It is clear that Energy Transfer is unable to successfully and safely construct their dangerous pipelines at this drill site. We call upon Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to SHUT IT DOWN.

Join us for future actions:…/1FAIpQLSckM3QdH64x6UL6kc…/viewform

Mariner East is a dangerous pipeline project for overseas plastics production. It’s construction over the past 3 years has contaminated our water, caused dozens of sinkholes, racked up close to 200 Notices of Violation with the DEP, and millions of dollars in fines. #HaltMarinerNow


Cancel reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: