Risks to Public by Mariner East Pipeline Have Reached Alarming Proportions

by Duane Nichols on July 20, 2021

Sink holes on Mariner East pipeline greatly increase risks to the local residents

Chester County PA officials call for shutdown of older Mariner East pipelines

From an Article by Bill Rettew, Delaware County Times, July 19, 2021

WEST CHESTER — Chester County Commissioners fired off a letter Monday asking the PA Public Utilities Commission to halt operation of two Mariner East pipelines while further investigation is conducted.

Commissioners asked that the impact on public safety be ascertained, with the impact from a recent outbreak of likely construction-induced sinkholes near the lines. The sinkholes occurred near construction sites for the 350 mile Mariner East 2 pipeline.

The lines in question are Energy Transfer’s Mariner East 1 eight-inch and 12-inch natural gas liquid pipelines. Both pipelines have been in the ground for about 80 years, but only began carrying NGLs under high pressure much more recently.

According to the letter from Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz, and Commissioners Josh Maxwell and Michelle Kichline, at least seven sinkholes have been caused by construction near the lines in 2021 in the fragile, hollow karst geology near the heavillly-trafficked Chester County Library and Exton Mall in West Whiteland Township.

One recent sinkhole near the lines swallowed a tree, a phenomenon caught on video and provided with the letter to the PUC.

“It seems to us that the significant risk of exposing these pipelines makes the potential for a catastrophic leak that much easier to occur and renders the ME1 and 12-inch pipelines ‘unreasonable, unsafe and inadequate’,” wrote the County Commissioners. “This is why we are asking that you order operations of the ME1 and 12-inch pipelines be ceased until the Commission can better understand the cause of these sinkholes and the risks that they present to the operation of the operating NGL pipelines.”

The County commissioners are asking the PUC to investigate and take swift action, noting that the PUC has access to the necessary geological and engineering studies and reports provided by pipeline builder Sunoco/Energy Transfer.

The commissioners have engaged their own independent pipeline engineer and geologist to study the issue, but those experts must rely on only publicly available information.

In their letter to PUC Secretary Rosemary Chiavetta, the Commissioners wrote, “you, the Commission, are one of the few bodies that can truly ensure our residents’ safety by immediately stopping the operation of the current Mariner East lines, and fully studying the issue before allowing product to move again.

“Please help us in our efforts to keep our residents safe.”

Commissioner Maxwell called for a pipeline halt. “Chester County has called for a stop in operation of Energy Transfer’s Mariner East 8-inch and 12-inch NGL pipelines,” Maxwell said. “This project has consistently put residents’ lives and their properties at risk.

“It’s past time for the PA PUC to take swift action to protect our community.”

Construction for the Mariner East 2 pipeline along an existing right of way has been delayed for several years and is ongoing. The pipeline will stretch from Marcellus shale sites in West Virginia, Ohio and Western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook Refinery in Delaware County. It passes through many high density areas, including within close proximity to more than 40 schools and several churches.


See also: Chester County Commissioners urge PUC to act as Mariner East pipeline construction causes more sinkholes | Susan Phillips, StateImpact Pennsylvania, July 20, 2021

At the request of the PA Department of Environmental Protection, Sunoco stopped construction on a section of the line near Valley Creek and the Chester County library. Sunoco is using horizontal directional drilling to create a 370-foot bore hole that will go beneath the creek. It’s one of the final legs of the line to be built. PA-DEP also asked Sunoco to provide a plan to mitigate current and prevent future sinkholes at the site. A PA-DEP spokesman said the agency has been working with the PA PUC, and the two agencies will hold an onsite meeting with the company officials early next week.

While construction of the line is temporarily on hold, Sunoco continues to truck water from the site. West Whiteland resident Ginny Kerslake said she has documented at least nine sinkholes related to the construction, and watched as dozens of cement trucks filled the holes with grout, only to have more sinkholes form. “They’re still constructing the exit pit, and they are still allowed to extract groundwater, which is contributing to sinkholes, so that’s a concern,” Kerslake said.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Leah Jennings November 9, 2021 at 10:46 am

Check out Meadowbrook Manor in Exton, PA. Nothing has stopped there.

Constant pounding noises early in the morning , noise on weekends etc.

Those people in that neighborhood have not been protected at all.

I live west of there and think it is horrendous that such things can be allowed

… all for $$$$$$$$$$$.

Makes me ill. Leah Jennings


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