Mariner East Pipeline is Unsafe & Must be Rerouted in Penna.

by Duane Nichols on December 28, 2020

High pressure pipelines in residential areas are clearly a safety issue

YEAR IN REVIEW: Sunoco told to reroute pipeline in Chester County PA

From the Daily Local News, Chester County, PA, December 23, 2020

Following an August spill of drilling fluid at Marsh Creek Lake, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection shut down construction and told pipeline builder Sunoco/Energy Transfer to find alternative route.

Sunoco appealed the ruling and Judge Bernard Labuskes Jr. ruled that the PA-DEP should be tasked with making any final decision on a restart at the site that feeds drinking water to residents and businesses to the south along the Brandywine Creek watershed.

The PA-DEP also required Sunoco/ET to restore resources impacted by Mariner East 2 pipeline installation in Upper Uwchlan Township.

The August spill of over 8,000 gallons of drilling fluid, an industrial waste, created a 15-foot wide by 8-foot deep subsidence, adversely impacting wetlands, two tributaries to Marsh Creek Lake, and the lake itself, in Marsh Creek State Park.

The drilling fluid spill caused the park to close off 33 acres of the lake from boating and other recreational uses and access.

Two new subsidences, or sinkholes recently developed in the vicinity of the active 8 inch Mariner pipeline. One sinkhole measures 6 by 9, by 4 feet deep, and the other is 9 feet around and 11 feet deep. The active pipe is about four feet deep.

The Mariner East pipeline right-of-way weaves 350 miles from Marcellus shale deposits in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to the refinery in Marcus Hook, Delaware County. The pipe passes by more than 40 schools statewide, the Chester County Library in Exton, through a children’s baseball field and high density areas in both Chester and Delaware counties.

“These incidents are yet another instance where Sunoco has blatantly disregarded the citizens and resources of Chester County with careless actions while installing the Mariner East 2 Pipeline,” PA-DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said. “We will not stand for more of the same.

“An alternate route must be used. The department is holding Sunoco responsible for its unlawful actions and demanding a proper cleanup,” McDonnell said. “To the fullest extent possible under our laws and regulations, we will continue to hold this company accountable for their actions, impacts, and behavior.”

In the Notice of Violation, PA-DEP requested, among other things, that Sunoco provide plans to address the impacts of the drilling fluid spill and subsidence events.

PA-DEP reported that a pipeline reroute in the Marsh Creek area was previously evaluated by Sunoco and found to be technically feasible. The order requires that this technically feasible route be used rather than the current pathway, which has resulted in multiple drilling fluid spills and subsidence in a wetland area.

Former State Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19 of West Whiteland fought the project for several years and recently at Marsh Creek announced for the first time that the project should be discontinued.

“While it’s good to see that PA-DEP taking responsibility for the ongoing and very severe impacts of the Mariner East pipeline project, I hope it will also reconsider and rethink the pipeline route and construction activities that have led to a series of sinkholes and other serious geologic problems along karst formations in the West Whiteland area,” Dinniman said.

State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-156th of West Chester, has organized several informational pipeline events.

“I applaud the PA-DEP order to reroute the Sunoco pipeline in Upper Uwchlan Township,” Comitta said. “We’ve seen the continuous violations by Sunoco on our natural resources and the disruption of everyday life in the community.

“Our residents deserve to feel safe at home and know that their right to clean air and water is protected.”

Food & Water Action organizer Sam Rubin released the following statement:

“Sunoco’s negligence has created a series of entirely predictable disasters, the most recent being the massive spill at Marsh Creek Lake. This dangerous, unnecessary pipeline does not need to be re-routed. It must be shut down entirely. The Wolf administration has given Sunoco a green light to pollute communities across the commonwealth, in order to build a dangerous explosive pipeline that only serves to deliver raw materials to make plastic junk. Sunoco’s record of negligence and malfeasance speaks for itself; the only question is whether Governor Wolf will finally protect Pennsylvania from this corporate menace.”

Kurt Knaus, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance: “PA-DEP’s order to reroute this portion of the project is no small matter, especially when you consider the pipe in this area is meant to connect two existing pipes that are already in the ground…….”

“……Communities that thought this project was coming to an end now face potentially many more months of disruption, because this action has the potential of dramatically extending the construction life of a pipeline project that was nearly finished……”

“……The economic impacts are just as real. Hundreds of local jobs are at stake downstream at Marcus Hook and along the line itself because of potential construction delays. This is Pennsylvania’s largest infrastructure project and it remains vital to the entire commonwealth, which is why it needs to move forward, not backward.”

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See also: PA Pipeline Shift Will ‘Share The Wealth’ With Midwest Markets, Michael Sandoval, Inside Sources, December 15, 2020

Energy Transfer’s (ET) recent announcement that it will convert the Mariner East 1 pipeline to help transport refined products from the Midwest to Pennsylvania and the northeast will be a boon to both northeast energy consumers and midwest producers, industry analysts say.

“PA Access will utilize part of our Mariner East 1 pipeline to provide about 20,000 – 25,000 barrels per day of refined products from the Midwest supply regions through our Allegheny Access pipeline system into Pennsylvania and to markets in the Northeast,” the company said in November. The service will begin in the fourth quarter of 2020.

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