Monthly Archives: July 2017

Sunoco Pipeline Offers re Wells

Sunoco offers affected well owners along pipeline $60K; petition seeks to halt construction

Sunoco Pipeline LP has offered $60,000 each to at least 14 households in Chester County whose water wells were impaired this month by the company’s construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline, according to two people involved in the negotiations.

The $60,000 would pay for each household’s water bills for years to come after it is connected to Aqua Pennsylvania’s public water system.

Earlier this month, 14 households near Township Line Road in West Whiteland and Uwchlan Townships complained that the water from their private wells was interrupted or had become cloudy. Sunoco subsequently suspended drilling in that area. At issue is water that is released in the process of constructing the pipeline. Sunoco says it uses a mix of water and naturally occurring, nontoxic bentonite clay.

Jeffrey Shields, a Sunoco spokesman, said Thursday that the company will not comment on private negotiations.

The offer, made to the homeowners Wednesday night, was the latest in a recent string of developments regarding the pipeline, which is being built to transport natural-gas liquids through 17 counties along the southern part of the state, including Chester and Delaware Counties.

• On Monday, an administrative law judge temporarily blocked construction of a valve-control station in West Goshen Township, Chester County.

• Tuesday, in a separate action, a state Environmental Hearing Board judge ordered that Sunoco temporarily halt horizontal drilling being done in connection with the pipeline’s construction, although that order does not block all construction. The order will expire Aug. 7, when the environmental board will hold hearings on the matter.

• And on Thursday, a coalition of local environmental groups from suburban Pennsylvania said it had gathered about 1,200 signatures from residents supporting calls for a halt to the Mariner East 2 pipeline construction because of the water issue.

The petition, addressed to the state legislature, supports a recent call by State Sen. Andrew Dinniman, a Democrat from Chester County, to have the Department of Environmental Protection halt the horizontal-drilling method used to construct the pipeline — at least temporarily.

Sunoco made its offer of $60,000 a household Wednesday evening, during a meeting with those whose water well has been affected, according to two people who were present. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the meeting was private.

Sunoco permitted the residents to take a few days to “mull it over” before coming to a decision on the offer, but the consensus among those in the meeting was that they would accept it, according to the two people present.

Written by: Frank Kummer & Michael Burke, STAFF WRITERS | philly.com

By |July 31st, 2017|Categories: Pipeline Construction, Property Rights|

Suspension of Mariner 2 Drilling

EcoWatch has provided a review of recent orders suspending some work on the Sunoco Logistics Mariner East 2 Pipeline.

Sunoco Ordered to Temporarily Suspend Drilling on Pipeline Project

The Pennsylvania’s Environmental Hearing Board ordered Sunoco Pipeline LP Tuesday to temporarily halt some types of work on a $2.5 billion pipeline project designed to carry 275,000 barrels a day of butane, propane and other liquid fossil fuels from Ohio and West Virginia, across Pennsylvania, to the Atlantic coast.

On July 19, three environmental groups presented Judge Bernard Labuskes, Jr. with documentation showing that the project had caused dozens of drilling fluid spills and other accidents between April and mid-June.

“Across the state, Sunoco has unleashed drilling fluid into exceptional value wetlands, high-quality trout streams, reservoirs, and groundwater endangering both drinking water supplies and our natural environment,” Clean Air Council said in a statement. The nonprofit, along with the Mountain Watershed Association, Inc. and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, submitted the evidence to the judge one week ago.

The judge ordered all horizontal directional drilling—expected to be used in 168 locations where the pipeline crosses waterways or other obstacles—halted until Aug. 7, except in places where Sunoco can show that stopping mid-bore would cause safety problems, equipment damage or “more environmental harm than good.” The order immediately affects 55 sites where drilling is currently underway.

State environmental regulators are also investigating potential violations during the pipeline’s construction, including one case where regulators found that 14 homeowners “experienced adverse impacts to their private water supplies, which are drawn from groundwater.”

“The number of spills that have happened already is highly alarming; we know of at least 80 spills so far and construction is expected to continue into 2018,” said Clean Air Council attorney Kathryn Urbanowicz, adding that water supplies in five different places have been damaged.

“While the stay of drilling is temporary, today’s order is very important because the problems with Sunoco’s drilling have been accumulating rapidly, and each day that drilling continues the public and our natural resources are at risk,” she said.

Tree clearing and other activities along the pipeline’s path will still be allowed, under the Pennsylvania board’s order.

The order comes one day after a public utility commission judge issued an emergency order halting pipeline construction in West Goshen Township, Pennsylvania, over claims that the company unlawfully misled local officals about where it would build an above-ground valve station.

Company officials have said that they plan to press forward with construction.

“We believe that the full hearing before the Environmental Hearing Board will demonstrate that we have expended every effort to meet the strict conditions of our environmental permits,” Sunoco spokesperson Jeff Shields told NBC News. “We are continually evaluating our drilling plans, and had already voluntarily suspended work on a number of our drills while working to ensure that the concerns outlined by the DEP and Gov. Wolf were addressed.”

Over the last 10 years, the project’s parent company, Sunoco Logistics, has spilled hazardous material more often than any other company, based on records from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. That’s according to resolutions opposing the project passed by eight town-level governments along Mariner East 2’s route. (As of April, Sunoco Logistics has merged with Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline).

The controversial Mariner East 2 project has also come under fire for using eminent domain condemnation to seize private lands to build the pipeline, for posing an explosion risk to 40 public and private schools close to its route, and for running through densely populated Philadelphia suburbs. More than 105,000 people live within a quarter mile of the pipeline’s path and could be at risk in the event of an explosion, according to an analysis by FracTracker.

The pipeline has faced opposition both in the courtroom and on the ground. Camp White Pine, a direct action protest camp which activists say has created the most elaborate tree-sit ever built on the East Coast, was recently profiled by PBS NewsHour.

“We started really doing some research on this company and on the product it was carrying,” Ellen Gerhart, a retired special education teacher whose home sits roughly 200 feet from the pipeline’s path and who allowed activists to build the camp on her land, told NewsHour. “The more research you do, the worse the picture gets.”

Last month, in a separate legal action, a Huntington County judge ordered Ellen, her 30 year-old daughter Elise, and their supporters to vacate part of their own land. Thus far, the protest camp remains in place.

The project also faces zoning challenges filed this month by residents of Middletown Township.

Environmentalists emphasized that while they welcomed the drilling delay, they saw it as no reason for those opposed to the pipeline to become complacent or slow their efforts.

“The relief is not permanent,” Alex Bomstein, a Clean Air Council attorney said in a statement, “and the public must continue to call on elected officials and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to defend the public interest by putting a long-term halt to the drilling, which Sunoco has been unable to do safely.”

Written by: Sharon Kelly | EcoWatch

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By |July 30th, 2017|Categories: News, Pipeline Construction, Property Rights|

Mariner East 2 Environmental Violations

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has fined Sunoco Logistics and is investigating numerous other incidents. Property owners may have a cause of action based on trespass or pollution beyond Sunoco acquired property rights.

DEP issues violation notices over pipeline

The state Department of Environmental Protection has issued four notices of violation to Sunoco Logistics over its construction of the $3 billion, 350-milelong Mariner East 2 pipeline.

The notices were issued to Sunoco in two of the 17 counties along the pipeline route for drilling fluid’s – a mix of water and bentonite clay used to lubricate the drill bit – impact on the state’s water. The department says the fluid is nontoxic and doesn’t have lasting effects on water.

Additionally, a consent order and agreement has been executed for a violation that impacted a wetland

area next to Interstate 81 in Cumberland County. That resulted in a $87,600 penalty. Plus, numerous other investigations of incidents that are anticipated to result in enforcement actions are underway, DEP said in a statement.

According to a recent report by StateImpact Pennsylvania, the pipeline construction has resulted in at least 61 drilling mud spills from April 25 through June 17 that occurred in 10 counties along the pipeline route that ranged from minor releases of five gallons to larger ones involving tens of thousands of gallons.

At Gov. Tom Wolf’s direction, the department plans to provide a weekly update of incidents related to this pipeline’s construction, which has come under pressure from groups opposing the project. The updates are on DEP’s website.

“With so much concern about the Mariner East 2 pipeline, the public needs to know that DEP is taking its oversight and regulatory enforcement role seriously,” DEP Secretar y Patrick McDonnell said. “This project has raised questions about public health and the health of the environment, and it is important to be transparent about the issues that have arisen over the course of the construction.” “I want to be clear: This is not the end of the road, but the beginning,” McDonnell said, “and I want the people of Pennsylvania to know and be confident that DEP is exercising the fullest extent of our regulatory authority for this project.”

Written by: Jan Murphy | Patriot News

By |July 25th, 2017|Categories: Condemnation, Eminent domain, Pipeline Construction, Property Rights, Uncategorized|