Pa. DEP Slams Brakes On Sunoco Pipeline Construction

Marcus Hook expansion project construction

The state Department of Environmental Protection on Wednesday announced it has suspended work on the Mariner East 2 pipeline.

Violations cited by the DEP included unauthorized construction at several sites along the pipeline's route, unauthorized discharges of drilling.

The planned pipeline will carry propane, butane and ethane from the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation to an export terminal near Philadelphia.

State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-156, along with six Chester and DE county residents, met with Wolf on December 20. The only activities allowed will be those associated with ensuring the shutdown is done safely and without further environmental damage.

"Until Sunoco can demonstrate that the permit conditions can and will be followed, DEP has no alternative but to suspend the permits", DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in the release.

The state is now demanding Sunoco come up with a plan to address the problems with Mariner East 2.

Pennsylvania is known for a shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach to energy regulatory policy.

More directly, Sunoco has a checkered record nationwide when it comes to hazardous materials pipeline spills. "A year and over 100 spills later, I am relieved to see construction halted until Sunoco Logistics complies with safety regulations in a proactive manner".

This is not the first time that work on the pipeline has been halted.

Last summer, a Pennsylvania court ordered Mariner East II construction temporarily suspended following numerous objections, until Sunoco agreed to stronger project oversight from the state.

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Some of the terms the DEP highlighted in its order involve addressing the effects the pipeline has on private water wells in Silver Spring Township, identifying all in-progress and upcoming construction activities and submitting a detailed operations plan outlining additional measures and controls to minimize boring fluid on the surface.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Wednesday halted construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline, dinging project developer Sunoco Pipeline LP for a slew of environmental law violations in the latest black eye for the controversial project. The order requires us to submit various reports related to current and future construction activities.

"We intend to expeditiously submit these reports and we are confident that we will be reauthorized to commence work on this project promptly", the statement said. The project's permits originally anticipated that construction would be done by 2016.

Sunoco declined to comment at the request of Fox Business. "If a partner was bringing liquids, bringing value to the project, we would consider that".

Sunoco Pipeline/Sunoco Logistics is a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, one of the nation's largest pipeline operators.

Sunoco officials can appeal the DEP suspension to the state Environmental Hearing Board, DEP spokesman Neil Shader said. Andy Dinniman wrote on December 18 to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.

The DEP also said that the Cumberland County Conservation District on December 18 conducted an inspection of pipeline construction activities near North Locust Point Road. "I am calling on Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration to conduct a full risk assessment to analyze the potentially catastrophic harm that a leak or other malfunction could cause". Elise Gerhart and her mother Ellen, a retired public school teacher, have said the company attempted to illegally cut trees on their land to clear the pipeline's path.

Sites in Blair County's Woodbury Township and Huntingdon County's Tell Township are referenced in Wednesday's suspension order. "I also thank the governor for listening to the concerns of our citizens and making public safety a priority".

The DEP had given Sunoco plenty of opportunities to clean up its act.

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