User avatar
By sandbagger2
After water scare, heat is on Sunoco’s Mariner pipeline

By Rick Kauffman,, @Kauffee_DT on Twitter

The Mariner East 2 pipeline project routes ethane and propane from Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania to a processing station in Marcus Hook.
The Mariner East 2 pipeline project routes ethane and propane from Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania to a processing station in Marcus Hook. Graphic courtesy of Sunoco Logistics
Mariner East 2 operations continued Saturday in Exton, less than a week after a dozen residents allege drilling lubricant infiltrated their well water amidst construction of the pipeline project that will transport natural gas liquids across Pennsylvania.

Sunoco Pipeline LP had temporarily suspended operations after Chester County residents complained of significant sediment and discoloration of their drinking water.

Sen. Andrew Dinniman, D-19 of West Whiteland, called on Sunoco to suspend operations.

“I have asked Sunoco directly to cease drilling in Chester County until a comprehensive assessment of the damage to this aquifer can occur, a plan is put in place to restore safe water service to the affected residents, and steps are taken to ensure that a situation like this does not occur again,” Dinniman said to the Daily Local News.

Reports said Sunoco Pipeline LP resumed horizontal drilling of the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Exton on Saturday, despite the results of well water contamination testing taking approximately one week to complete.

Documents provided to the Daily Times allege both the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Sunoco Pipeline LP were aware the potential risks of horizontal directional drilling in the Exton area.

“Karst area near Exton and the East Whiteland compressor branch present additional risks of IRs (inadvertent releases) during HDD (horizontal directional drilling),” read the DEP analysis of pipeline construction filed Feb. 6, 2017.

Concerns were raised in the report regarding horizontal directional drilling within 300 feet of aqua wells near the Hillside well.

“Groundwater impacts from an inadvertent return cannot be directly visually observed from the surface. Any loss of circulation is the only indicator of drilling fluid migrating out of the borehole into the groundwater,” the report continues.

In neighboring West Goshen, Chester County, the township filed a petition for an injunction with the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Monday night, alleging Sunoco Pipeline LP breached the terms of a settlement agreement regarding construction of value stations along Mariner East 2.

The township claims Sunoco Pipeline LP recently began construction to install and operate an above-ground pipeline valve at mile marker 344 near Greenhill and Boot roads, a different location than agreed upon and without notifying residents, the press release from West Goshen Township claims.

Chester County residents affected by contaminated water on Valley View Drive were given drinking water, replacement water pumps and were provided with the opportunity of rooms in nearby hotels. The samples for well water contamination testing were only collected on Friday, the same day local officials and residents were made aware that recent construction activity may have impacted the quality and safety of drinking water for homeowners.

“I was horrified to hear that this project may be impacting Chester County well water,” Dinniman continued. “We listened to Sunoco assure residents at numerous public meetings that impacts from this project would be minimal. The loss of safe drinking water hardly seems like a minimal impact.

“My constituents who live near this construction zone are deeply concerned that the continued disturbance will result in irreparable damage to their source of drinking water. To advance construction before determining the degree of damage is simply wrong.”

The concern that state legislators have raised is the lack of transparency from Sunoco Logistics and Sunoco Pipe LP in revealing environmental waste leakages into waterways to the residents before their water sources are compromised.

Sunoco Logistics spokesperson Jeff Shields was reached by phone Monday but did not respond to request for comment.

State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-156, of West Chester, plans to introduce legislation to create a state board that would be responsible for implementing and coordinating the timely communication of information regarding pipeline activities in Pennsylvania.

“I believe it is important that these residents be provided with proper communication both before and during construction regarding pipeline-related roadway infrastructure and traffic congestion, noise, environmental impacts, health and safety issues and, perhaps most importantly, evacuation plans in case of a pipeline explosion or other emergency,” Comitta said.

The proposed bill has 25 bipartisan cosponsors, including Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161 of Swarthmore.

“My primary concern is the safety of the residents I represent,” Krueger-Braneky wrote in a statement to the Daily Times. “We’ve already seen three spills of drilling fluid in the Chester Creek and now drinking water has been compromised in nearby Chester County.”

“So I’ve signed onto a bill that would improve transparency and communication on pipeline projects to keep our residents safe and informed.”

While not seeping directly into the private water sources of residents, a similar leak of the bentonite clay — the naturally occurring absorbent clay used in the lubrication of the drilling and cutting tools in horizontal drilling — muddied the waters of Chester Creek in Brookhaven in May.

The DEP issued a notice of violation on May 9, citing the “inadvertent release” of drilling solution. The solution, bentonite, is classified as industrial waste and the discharge was a violation of the state clean streams law.

Sunoco Pipeline LP was given five days to complete the cleanup.

“We continue to work with the DEP to complete our work while ensuring the protection of Chester Creek,” said Senior Director of Public Affairs for Sunoco Pipeline LP Joseph McGinn, regarding the bentonite leak in Brookhaven. “The entire Chester Creek Road work area will be fully restored upon completion of construction.”

A letter provided by Eric Friedman, spokesman for the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety, contained an inspection report the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection filed against Sunoco Pipeline LP.

The incident details include information on 500 gallons of bentonite clay and water that leaked into Chester Creek caused by a “inadvertent return” during the installation of horizontal directional drills.

A DEP inspector visited the site and determined that Sunoco Pipeline LP had “cleaned up pretty well” and installed a containment area around the bentonite return area.

The letter continues, “(Sunoco) say that have lost about 20,000 (gallons) of fluid over the past days so who knows where that went. Will see.”

For the homeowners on Valley View Drive in Exton, where many rely on wells for drinking water, the impacts come much closer to home.

“I am angered that the company never notified myself or any of my neighbors that a breach occurred two-weeks ago,” said West Whiteland homeowner, David Mano. “And why didn’t they know the geology of the area before they started drilling to avoid such a breach in the first place?”
User avatar
By sandbagger2
Sunoco to replace private well water with public supply in Chester County
JULY 11, 2017 | 3:35 PM

Benjamin Eckert, a resident of Chester County's West Whiteland Township, with some 30 cases of bottled water that Sunoco had delivered to his house after water from his well turned cloudy. Sunoco is drilling nearby for the planned Mariner East 2 pipeline, and hit the aquifer from which Eckert and his neighbors draw their water.
Benjamin Eckert, a resident of Chester County’s West Whiteland Township, with some 30 cases of bottled water that Sunoco had delivered to his house after water from his well turned cloudy. Sunoco is drilling nearby for the planned Mariner East 2 pipeline, and hit the aquifer from which Eckert and his neighbors draw their water.
Sunoco Pipeline agreed on Tuesday to pay for public water to be supplied to about 30 homes in Chester County’s West Whiteland Township where water from private wells turned cloudy after a Sunoco pipeline drilling operation for the Mariner East 2 hit a spring, a township official said.

The company made the commitment at a meeting with township officials on Tuesday morning, said George Turner, a township supervisor. The homes will be connected to the local water line operated by Aqua America.

Turner said details such as how long it would take to make the connections and how long the affected households will be supplied with bottled water or extra filtration systems have yet to be worked out, but that residents will be sent letters explaining the changes later Tuesday.

“We have reached resolution with Sunoco that they will bring public water to all of the affected homes,” he said.

Turner said the company had opted to convert the homes to public water because of an expectation that private well water would remain cloudy.

“It’s going to continue to give the people cloudy water and they are never going to be satisfied,” he said. “We want them to have what they had before Sunoco ever came to town.”

Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Turner also said that Sunoco informed township officials and the Department of Environmental Protection on June 26 that crews hit a spring during drilling for the Mariner East 2 pipeline which will cross the township on its route from southwest Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook in Delaware County.

The company’s statement about the spring to the township came a week before it publicly acknowledged on July 3 that private well water had been contaminated, and began to supply affected residents with bottled water, extra filtration systems, and offers of local hotels in which to stay or bathe while domestic water supplies were disrupted.

Turner’s statement that Sunoco disclosed the problem to township officials before taking steps to fix private water supplies confirms rumors that there was a delay before it informed the public of the problem.

“We were notified by Sunoco that they thought they had tapped into a spring,” Turner said. “This particular drill is going in 3,000 feet, and they are not even a third of the way in when they start to see some water.”

He said the township received its first complaints about cloudy water on July 3, and that Sunoco immediately responded.

“I called the Sunoco people on Monday, July 3, and within half an hour there was a team of about ten folks up there,” Turner said.

Initial test results from an independent water-testing company began to come in to the township on Tuesday, and unexpectedly showed that private well water was not contaminated with bentonite clay, also known as drilling mud, Turner said.

“The initial samples we are getting back now, there is no bentonite clay in there. It’s just cloudy water,” he said.
User avatar
By sandbagger2
Sunoco responds after contaminating drinking water wells
By Bill Rettew Jr.,

Uwchlan Township >> Sunoco Pipeline is working with 14 households in the Exton area “to resolve private water well water issues near construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline,” according to a release sent Monday by Jeffrey Shields of Sunoco.

Sunoco contaminated well drinking water while digging the pipeline. Uwchlan Township officials reported at Monday’s meeting that public water provider Aqua America, Inc., had recently tested public water supplies and they were deemed safe.

Homes on Township Line Road and Valley View Drive, mostly in West Whiteland Township, but also in Uwchlan Township, first reported either losing water pressure or experiencing cloudy water beginning Monday July 3, reads the release.

State Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19, and State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-156, opposed restarting construction until the problem is fully understood and addressed.

Crews have been working on a horizontal directional drill to lay pipeline between West Whiteland and Uwchlan, with a total of 23 miles of planned pipeline construction through Chester County.

“Drilling was suspended July 3, following the first reports of well water problems,” reads the release. “Measures were taken to stabilize the drill hole and prevent infiltration of groundwater into the drill hole, and drilling resumed Saturday, July 8, with backup water supplies in place as a precaution. We are working in close coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that our activities meet the strict guidelines of our permits.”

Shields stated that water supply was restored to those who lost it, additional filtration devices for households experiencing cloudy water were installed, water testing is underway and bottled water was provided to affected residents.

“We have tested approximately 26 private wells in total (a number of residents requested the testing as a precaution) and are awaiting full results,” Sunoco said. “One family chose to remain in a hotel Saturday and Sunday night, and none tonight, as of last report. We had as many as five families one night last week (Wednesday) in hotels.”

Work is under construction on the 350-mile long pipeline that would stretch from the refinery in Marcus Hook, Delaware County to the Marcellus Shale deposits in western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

Sunoco said it will continue to monitor construction in a bid to minimize any further impacts to residents.

“Full restoration of service will be accomplished; we’re looking at all avenues to make sure that people have water supply to their homes,” reads the release.

Sunoco said that test results will allow the company to better understand the cause.

“The drilling mud that we are using is composed of potable water and bentonite clay, which is the same mixture used to drill drinking water wells,” Sunoco said. “The bentonite clay is a non-toxic, naturally occurring clay that is not a hazardous substance. The bentonite, including its components, must comply with safe drinking standards.

“Our schedule remains estimated completion of the first (20-inch) pipeline by end of September 2017 and the second pipeline (16-inch) in 2018,” according to Sunoco.
User avatar
By sandbagger2
Sunoco halts drilling in Chester County where pipeline construction damaged drinking water wells
JULY 14, 2017 | 1:00 AM

A sign marks the path of the Mariner East 1 pipeline through Chester County.
Sunoco has agreed to halt drilling operations related to the Mariner East 2 pipeline construction in Chester County where several dozen residents have been without water for the past week due to aquifer intrusion by horizontal directional drilling. The West Whiteland Township residents who rely on private drinking water wells have experienced cloudy water or loss of water completely. More than 100 community members gathered at the West Whiteland Township building on Thursday night to discuss the situation with both township and Sunoco officials.

Township supervisor George Turner told the gathering that the company agreed to suspend drilling operations until “the water situation is addressed.”

“Effective today they are not drilling north of that site until further notice,” said Turner.

Sunoco has been supplying bottled water and offered to pay for hotel rooms so impacted residents can shower and bathe since the July 4th holiday weekend, when it was first notified by home owners that their wells had either run dry or had tainted water.

Sunoco’s operations punctured the aquifer on June 22, when the company says it notified township officials.

Earlier this week, Sunoco agreed to pay for a new water line to connect residents to a public drinking water source supplied by Aqua. Turner said Aqua had agreed to have a new water main installed within three weeks.

The $2.5 billion pipeline project will transport natural gas liquids 350 miles across the state, carrying propane, ethane, and butane from the Marcellus Shale fields in Ohio and western Pennsylvania to Delaware County, where it will be shipped overseas to make plastics.

Some residents thanked the quick response from the Township and praised their efforts to get Sunoco to act. One impacted homeowner thanked both the Township as well as Sunoco for providing water and reimbursing him for $2700 worth of filters.

But most impacted homeowners were unhappy that they now had to choose between remaining on their well water, and risk future problems, or hooking up to a public system they worried would not provide the same water quality and could potentially cost them more money down the road.

Others worried that Sunoco would only assume liability for a short period of time, and not be around to address potential future problems.

Private water wells in Pennsylvania are not regulated by federal or state regulations. A recent Supreme Court decision instructed the state legislature to change that, but lawmakers have not acted.

Although Sunoco is required by the Department of Environmental Protection to inform water users along the route about construction at least 72 hours before it began, most said they were not informed. The company is also required to inform impacted water users of a “pollution event.” Just about all residents with impacted water wells who attended the meeting said they heard about the cause of their water problems from their neighbors, not Sunoco.

Jeff Shields, a spokesman for Sunoco, said the company acted as soon as they got the first complaints from residents on July 3.

“I’m not sure if we reached everybody in the amount of time that they had wanted,” Shields said speaking after the meeting. “I know people were on vacation…maybe we had missed them. But we’re trying to work with them now to give them what they need.”

Shields told the meeting that Sunoco would pay for the new water infrastructure to be built, and would pay for water bills using a lump sum formula that calculated average usage. It wasn’t clear how long the company would pay the water bills.

“It’s improtant to us to have decent relationships with our neighbors,” Shields told StateImpact. “We’re impacting their lives, we understand that. And if their well water is impacted we need to do something about it and we are.”

Shields would not say how much the new water mains would cost.

Sunoco representatives were at the meeting with “paperwork” for residents who wanted to get connected to public water.

But David Mano, who has been drinking bottled water and showering at friends houses since last week, called the meeting “smoke and mirrors.”

Mano says Sunoco should be required to hook them up to a public supply without residents having to sign off on any agreements.

“And not wait to say ‘oh look I’m gonna dangle this water over your head until you sign this paper and if you don’t sign this paper now you’ll have to wait,” he said. “If our whole neighborhood is thinking about hiring a lawyer to do a class action lawsuit, are they going to say ‘well we’re not going to hook you up now because you want to sue us?’ That’s not right. They should be forced, literally forced to run water down our street.”

His partner Dianne Salter says since losing their well water, even the simplest things like brushing her teeth and cooking an ear of corn has become a chore that requires a lot of water and a waste of plastic bottles.

“Try washing your face with a bottle of water and a wash cloth,” she said.

Salter says she knew nothing about the pipeline or the construction until her well went bad. Now she worries about the safety of a high pressure natural gas liquids pipeline running near her house, and potential leaks. Natural gas liquid becomes a gas when it leaks out of a pipeline and hits the air.

“That’s what freaks me out because their pipeline is 50 feet away from us and we know nothing,” she said. “So it’s really a fear of an explosion if that did leak into the neighbor’s lawn, and if one lady who smokes drives by and throws her cigarette out the window, we’re goners.”
User avatar
By sandbagger2
Mariner East 2: At-Risk Schools and Populations (Link to article)

Mariner East 2: At-Risk Schools and Populations
December 9, 2016/3 Comments/in Articles, Environmental Justice, Health/Community, Pennsylvania, Pipelines /by Kirk Jalbert, PhD, MFA
by Kirk Jalbert, Manager of Community-Based Research & Engagement
with technical assistance from Seth Kovnant

In September, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rejected a number of permits for wetland crossings and sedimentation control that were required for Sunoco Pipeline’s proposed “Mariner East 2” pipeline. According to Sunoco, the proposed Mariner East 2 is a $2.5 billion, 350-mile-long pipeline that would be one of the largest pipeline construction projects in Pennsylvania’s history.

If built, Mariner East 2 could transport up to 450,000 barrels (18,900,000 gallons) per day of propane, ethane, butane, and other liquefied hydrocarbons from the shale fields of western Pennsylvania to export terminals in Marcus Hook, located just outside Philadelphia. A second proposed pipeline, if constructed, could carry an additional 250,000 barrels (10,500,000 gallons) per day of these same materials. Sunoco submitted revised permit applications to PADEP on Tuesday, December 6th.

The industry often refers to ethane, propane and butane collectively as “natural gas liquids.” They are classified by the federal government as “hazardous, highly volatile liquids,” but that terminology is also misleading. These materials, which have not been transported through densely populated southeast Pennsylvania previously, are liquid only at very high pressure or extremely cold temperatures. At the normal atmospheric conditions experienced outside the pipeline, these materials volatilize into gas which is colorless; odorless; an asphyxiation hazard; heavier than air; and extremely flammable of explosive. This gas can travel downhill and downwind for long distances while remaining combustible. It can collect (and remain for long periods of time) in low-lying areas; and things as ordinary as a cell phone, a doorbell or a light switch are capable of providing an ignition source.

Many who have followed the proposed Mariner East 2 project note that, while much has been written about the likely environmental impacts, insufficient investigation has been conducted into safety risks to those who live, work and attend schools in the proposed pipeline’s path. We address these risks in this article, and, in doing so, emphasize the importance of regulatory agencies allowing public comments on the project’s resubmitted permit applications.

The Inherent Risks of Artificially Liquified Gas
Resident of Pennsylvania do not need to look far for examples of how pipeline accidents pose serious risk. For instance, the 2015 explosion of the Enterprise ATEX (Appalachia to Texas) pipeline near Follansbee, WV, provides a depiction of what a Mariner East 2 pipeline failure could look like. This 20-inch diameter pipeline carrying liquid ethane is similar in many ways to the proposed Mariner East 2. When it ruptured in rural West Virginia, close to the Pennsylvania border, it caused damage in an area that extended 2,000 feet—about ½ square mile—from the place where the pipeline failed.

In another recent instance, the Spectra Energy Texas Eastern methane natural gas pipeline ruptured in Salem, PA, this April as a result of corroded welding. The explosion, seen above (photo by PA NPR State Impact), completely destroyed a house 200ft. away. Another house, 800ft. away, sustained major damage and its owner received 3rd degree burns. These incidents are not unique. FracTracker’s recent analysis found that there have been 4,215 pipeline incidents nation-wide since 2010, resulting in 100 reported fatalities, 470 injuries, and property damage exceeding $3.4 billion (“incident” is an industry term meaning “a pipeline failure or inadvertent release of its contents.” It does not necessarily connote “a minor event”).

Calculating Immediate Ignition Impact Zones
It is difficult to predict the blast radius for materials like ethane, propane and butane. Methane, while highly flammable or explosive, is lighter than air and so tends to disperse upon release into the atmosphere. Highly volatile liquids like ethane, propane and butane, on the other hand, tend to concentrate close to the ground and to spread laterally downwind. A large, dispersed vapor cloud of these materials may quickly spread great distances, even under very light wind conditions. A worst-case scenario would by highly variable since gas migration and dispersion is dependent on topography, leak characteristics, and atmospheric conditions. In this scenario, unignited gas would be allowed to migrate as an unignited vapor cloud for a couple miles before finding an ignition source that causes an explosion that encompasses the entire covered area tracing back to the leak source. Ordinary devices like light switches or cell phones can serve as an ignition source for the entire vapor cloud. One subject matter expert recently testified before a Municipal Zoning Hearing board that damage could be expected at a distance of three miles from the source of a large scale release.

The federal government’s “potential impact radius” (PIR) formula, used for natural gas (methane) isn’t directly applicable because of differences in the characteristics of the material. It may however be possible to quantify an Immediate Ignition Impact Zone. This represents the explosion radius that could occur if ignition occurs BEFORE the gas is able to migrate.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) provides instructions for calculating the PIR of a methane natural gas pipeline. The PIR estimates the range within which a potential failure could have significant impact on people or property. The PIR is established using the combustion energy and pipeline-specific fuel mass of methane to determine a blast radius: PIR = 0.69*sqrt(p*d^2). Where: PIR = Potential Impact Radius (in feet), p = maximum allowable operating pressure (in pounds per square inch), d = nominal pipeline diameter (in inches), and 0.69 is a constant applicable to natural gas

The Texas Eastern pipeline can use the PIR equation as-is since it carries methane natural gas. However, since Mariner East 2 is primarily carrying ethane, propane, and butane NGLs, the equation must be altered. Ethane, propane, butane, and methane have very similar combustion energies (about 50-55 MJ/kg). Therefore, the PIR equation can be updated for each NGL based on the mass density of the flow material as follows: PIR = 0.69*sqrt(r*p*d^2). Where: r = the density ratio of hydrocarbons with similar combustion energy to methane natural gas. At 1,440 psi, methane remains a gas with a mass density 5 times less than liquid ethane at the same pressure:

ME2 PIR table 1

The methane density relationships for ethane, propane, and butane can be used to calculate an immediate-ignition blast radius for each hydrocarbon product. The below table shows the results assuming a Mariner East 2-sized 20-inch diameter pipe operating at Mariner East 2’s 1,440psi maximum operating pressure:

ME2 PIR table 2

Using these assumptions, the blast radius can be derived as a function of pressure for each hydrocarbon for the same 20in. diameter pipe:

ME2 Immediate Ignition Blast Radius
ME2 Immediate Ignition Blast Radius
Note the sharp increase in blast radius for each natural gas liquid product. The pressure at which this sharp increase occurs corresponds with the critical pressure where each product transitions to a liquid state and becomes significantly denser, and in turn, contains more explosive power. These products will always be operated above their respective critical pressures when in transport, meaning their blast radius will be relatively constant, regardless of operating pressure.

Additional information on these calculations can be found in the Delaware County-based Middletown Coalition for Community Safety’s written testimony to the Pennsylvania Legistlature.

Living in the Mariner East 2 Immediate Impact Zone
Using the above calculations, FracTracker has created a new map of the Mariner East 2 pipeline using a highly-detailed GIS shapefile recently supplied by the DEP. On this map, we identify a 1,300ft radius “buffer” from Mariner East 2’s proposed route (the averaged Immediate Ignition Blast Radius for ethane, propane, and butane). However, we must recognize that this buffer represents a best case scenario in the event of a major pipeline accident. We then located all public and private schools, environmental justice census tracts, and estimated number of people who live within this buffer in order to get a clearer picture of the pipeline’s hidden risks.

Proposed Mariner East 2 Immediate Impact Zone with At-Risk Schools and Populations

View map fullscreen | How FracTracker maps work

Populations at Risk
In order to estimate the number of people who live within the impact zone, we first identified census blocks that intersect the hazardous buffer. Second, we calculated the percentage of that census block’s area that lies within the buffer. Finally, we used the ratio to determine the percentage of the block’s population that lies within the buffer. In total, there are an estimated 105,419 people living within a reasonable projection of the proposed Mariner East 2’s impact zone. The totals for each of the 17 counties in Mariner East 2’s trajectory can be found in the interactive map. The top five counties with the greatest number of at-risk residents are:

Chester County (31,632 residents in PIR)
Delaware County (17,791 residents in PIR)
Westmoreland County (11,183 residents in PIR)
Cumberland County (10,498 residents in PIR)
Berks County (7,644 residents in PIR)
Environmental Justice Areas
Environmental justice designations are defined by the DEP as any census tract where 20% or more of the population lives in poverty and/or 30% or more of the population identifies as a minority. These numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, last updated in 2010, and by the federal poverty guidelines. Mariner East 2 crosses through four environmental justice areas:

Census Tract 4064.02, Delaware County
Census Tract 125, Cambria County
Census Tract 8026, Westmoreland County
Census Tract 8028, Westmoreland County

DEP policies promise enhanced public participation opportunities in environmental justice communities during permitting processes for large development projects. No additional public participation opportunities were provided to these communities. Furthermore, no public hearings were held whatsoever in Cambria County and Delaware County. The hearing held in Westmoreland County took place in Youngwood, nine miles away from Jeanette. Pipelines are not specified on the “trigger list” that determines what permits receive additional scrutiny, however the policy does allow for “opt-in permits” if the DEP believes they warrant special consideration. One would assume that a proposed pipeline project with the potential to affect the safety of tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians qualifies for additional attention.

At-Risk Schools
One of the most concerning aspects of our findings is the astounding number of schools in the path of Mariner East 2. Based on data obtained from the U.S. Department of Education on the locations of schools in Pennsylvania, a shocking 23 public (common core) schools and 17 private schools were found within Mariner East 2’s best-case impact zone. In one instance, a school was discovered to be only 7 feet away from the pipeline’s intended path. Students and staff at these schools have virtually no chance to exercise their only possible response to a large scale release of highly volatile liquids, which is immediate on-foot evacuation.

Middletown High School in Dauphin County in close proximity to ME2
One reason for the high number of at-risk schools is that Mariner East 2 is proposed to roughly follow the same right of way as an older pipeline built in the 1930s (now marketed by Sunoco as “Mariner East 1.”). A great deal of development has occurred since that time, including many new neighborhoods, businesses and public buildings. It is worth noting that the U.S. Department of Education’s data represents the center point of schools. In many cases, we found playgrounds and other school facilities were much closer to Mariner East 2, as can be seen in the above photograph. Also of note is the high percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch programs at these schools, suggesting that many are located in disproportionately poorer communities.

Click here to view a complete list of at-risk schools

Now that PADEP has received revised permit applications from Sunoco, presumably addressing September’s long list of technical deficiencies, the agency will soon make a decision as to whether or not additional public participation is required before approving the project. Given the findings in our analysis, it should be clear that the public must have an extended opportunity to review and comment on the proposed Mariner East 2. In fact, public participation was extremely helpful to DEP in the initial review process, providing technical and contextual information.

It is, furthermore, imperative that investigations into the potential impacts of Mariner East 2 extend to assess the safety of nearby residents and students, particularly in marginalized communities. Thus far, no indication has been made by the DEP that this will be the case. However, the Pennsylvania Sierra Club has established a petition for residents to voice their desire for a public comment period and additional hearings.

Seth Kovnat is the chief structural engineer for an aerospace engineering firm in Southeastern PA, and regularly consults with regard to the proposed Mariner East 2 pipeline. In November, Seth’s expertise in structural engineering and his extensive knowledge of piping and hazardous materials under pressure were instrumental in providing testimony at a Pennsylvania Senate and House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee discussion during the Pennsylvania Pipeline Infrastructure Citizens Panel. Seth serves on the board of Middletown Coalition for Community Safety and is a member of the Mariner East 2 Safety Advisory Committee for Middletown Township, PA. He is committed to demonstrating diligence in gathering, truth sourcing, and evaluating technical information in pipeline safety matters in order to provide data driven information-sharing on a community level.

NOTE: This article was modified on 12/9/16 at 4pm to provide additional clarification on how the 1,300ft Immediate Impact Zone was calculated.

Tags: EJ, environmental justice, mariner east 2, PA, Pennsylvania, pipelines, schools
User avatar
By sandbagger2
State lawmakers want to beef up protections for pipeline neighbors
The Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline sits prior to burial in East Goshen Township.

By Rick Kauffman,, @Kauffee_DT on Twitter

Local legislators are looking for new ways to create a greater level of transparency of the Mariner East 2 pipeline project after multiple incidents of fluid leaks have affected both private and public waterways in Chester and Delaware counties in recent weeks.

State Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19 of West Whiteland, submitted a list of concerns to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection after he claimed the agency both failed to protect the well water of residents on Valley View Drive in West Whiteland Township and failed to hold Sunoco Pipeline L.P. accountable.

“Following reports of groundwater impact and wells running dry, I immediately began investigating what DEP requires to protect homeowners with well water,“ Dinniman said. “I was shocked to discover that while notification is required, Sunoco was taking advantage of a significant loophole in the permitting process by claiming they were unaware that these wells existed.”

According to the DEP’s website, the agency does not regulate private wells.

A spokesman for Sen. Tom Killion, R-9 of Middletown, said the senator intends to back legislation that would give greater clarity to homeowners whose properties fall in the right-of-way of the pipeline.

“Sen. Killion is working with Rep. (Chris) Quinn and DEP to find-tune and refine several legislative proposals that deal with private water wells, the DEP permitting process, landowner information and notification proposals,” said spokesman Mike Stoll on Monday.

Stoll said legislation in development would provide the DEP with the ability to bring private water sources into the permitting process, which currently the agency does not have the authority to do. He said informing landowners of their private property rights is paramount.

“Everyone is in agreement that information is key to this,” Stoll said. “Sen. Killion is supportive of everyone (being) well informed of the process.”

Sen. Tom McGarrigle, R-26 of Springfield, agreed.

“Having the maximum amount of transparency throughout this project is a necessity, anything less than that lessens our community’s confidence in the safety and environmental security of pipeline development,” offered McGarrigle spokesman Michael Rader on Monday. “As legislators, we have to continue to demand the highest standards of safety and environmental stewardship as we move forward.”

State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-156 of West Chester, has taken things a step further as she plans to introduce legislation to create a state board that would be responsible for implementing and coordinating the timely communication of the information regarding pipeline activities in Pennsylvania.

“I believe it is important that these residents be provided with proper communication both before and during construction regarding pipeline-related roadway infrastructure and traffic congestion, noise, environmental impacts, health and safety issues and, perhaps most importantly, evacuation plans in case of a pipeline explosion or other emergency,” Comitta said.

The proposed bill has 25 bipartisan cosponsors, including Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161 of Swarthmore, who said it would “improve transparency and communication on pipeline projects to keep our residents safe and informed.”

Dinniman has called for the DEP to halt horizontal directional drilling associated with the Mariner East 2 pipeline following the reports of water quality issues in Uwchlan and West Whiteland townships.

It was reported that on June 22, during the horizontal directional drilling process for this project, Sunoco or contractors working under Sunoco’s direction, damaged an underground water supply that fed a local aquifer. Residents on Valley View Drive in Chester County noticed significant sediment and discoloration in their normally pristine drinking water.

It wasn’t until July 3 that it was discovered Sunoco was responsible for the issues.

“Measures were taken to stabilize the drill hole and prevent infiltration of groundwater into the drill hole, and drilling resumed Saturday July 8, with backup water supplies in place as a precaution,” offered Sunoco Logistics spokesman Jeff Shields. “We are working in close coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that our activities meet the strict guidelines of our permits.”

However, since the permits don’t offer information on private water wells, similar incidents during the construction of Mariner East 2 remain a concern.

“The bottom line is, Sunoco submitted an application using bad data, DEP approved it and it is the citizens that are suffering the consequences,” Dinniman said. “I will continue to work to ensure that our groundwater is protected and I urge DEP officials to do the same.”
User avatar
By sandbagger2
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Another bentonite spill along pipeline
Expect some more news about the Mariner East 2 pipeline today.

Middletown Supervisor Mark Kirchgasser late Monday afternoon indicated the township has been informed of another bentonite spill amid pipeline construction.

It would be the second such spill during construction in Delaware County. Last month Sunoco Logistics acknowledged a spill of the clay-like substance that is used as part of the drilling process in Brookhaven. It is not believed to be a danger to the local water table. The township is aware of the situation and the state Department of Environmental Protection has been notified and is responding to the spill site, behind the Turnbridge Center.
In his Facebook post to the Middletown Township Community page, Kirchgasser indicated the spill reached Chester Creek. But small amounts of bentonite clay, which is commonly used in these types of drilling operations, is not believed to be a danger. In the meantime, we talked to some local legislators about the growing local concerns about the pipeline. You can read that story here. Lawmakers are talking about beefing up protections for home owners in the wake of problems with water wells tied to the drilling work out in Chester County. And West Goshen today is expected to be back in front of the PUC to make their case in a dispute with Sunoco about the location of a valve station in Chester County.
Speaking of West Goshen, there is a meeting there Wednesday night that is expected to draw a big public showing.
posted by Heron's Nest at 6:33 AM
  • 1
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 31