Dinniman files legal complaint against mariner east 2 pipeline electricity and water

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Sunoco spokesperson Lisa Dillinger responded with the following statement on Friday: “We strongly disagree with Senator Dinniman’s claims which are clearly founded on misinformation. ME2 and ME2X are critical public utility infrastructure for NGLs that are badly needed and this effort to stop construction would have a significant adverse impact on thousands of workers all across Pennsylvania including the senator’s district, the energy industry, and the economy of the Commonwealth.”

Due to the appearance of sinkholes on Lisa Drive, all shipments on the Mariner East 1 pipeline were shut down last month and construction was halted in East Whiteland on the Mariner East 2 pipeline. The Mariner East 1 pipeline runs 350 miles from Marcellus shale deposits in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania to the former Sunoco Refinery in Marcus Hook, Delaware County. The Mariner East 2 and Mariner East 2X pipelines will share much of the same 1930s right of way with the Mariner East 1 pipeline.

Both Dinniman’s complaint and a petition for interim emergency relief were filed with the PUC Wednesday by Mark Freed of Curtin and Heefner LLP. Freed’s fee will be paid by the Democratic Caucus of the Senate. No staff attorney, with full knowledge of the PUC, was capable of arguing the action.

The complaint calls on the PUC to prohibit “the construction of Mariner East 2 in areas of West Whiteland Township where Mariner East 1 is located, within 50 feet of a private dwelling, industrial building or place of public assembly, and grant such other relief as the commission finds to be just and appropriate.”

Since the complaint will take time to work through the legal process, Dinniman also a filed petition for interim emergency relief calling on the PUC to grant an injunction against the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline in West Whiteland. Such a process can typically take a full year.

According to the petition, “The route of Mariner East 2 through the complex, soluble, fractured and potentially unstable geology of West Whiteland Township, and its proximity of Mariner East 1 risks a catastrophe to residents and other individuals, homes, schools, water supplies, Amtrak and SEPTA rail lines and other infrastructure.”

“Sen. Andy Dinniman has again shown leadership by action and deeds, elevating the undisputed public safety concerns associated with Sunoco’s troubled export pipeline,” Friedman said. “This action further demonstrates his determination to protect the health, safety and welfare of Pennsylvanians while Gov. Wolf stands by in reckless indifference to the risks to the most vulnerable residents of our Commonwealth.”

Dinniman, who has been a leading and vocal critic of the pipeline project, said he called on the PUC to consider the risks and potential dangers of the entire project as its impacts continue to threaten his constituents and communities in Chester County.

“I have a moral, ethical, and constitutional duty to stand for the safety of the people of Chester County and the protection of their children and families, as well our environment, drinking water, natural resources, and public infrastructure,” he said. “The Mariner pipelines continue to pose a potential threat to all of the above and more.

“I am asking the PUC to consider all of that – the numerous drilling problems, the risks to safety, the proximity to homes and schools, and the unique and problematic geology of the region – in concluding that these pipelines should not be built here period.

“The bottom line is we continue to make the case against putting these pipelines in an area where we know they shouldn’t be and where it appears that Sunoco may not have done its due diligence. The construction of Mariner East 2 have potentially destabilized the geology of the surrounding area. If they are unsafe, then we have serious concerns and questions about the safe operation of Mariner 1. I am hopeful that given the big picture of the potentially disastrous problems and safety risks at hand, the PUC will agree that these pipelines should not have been permitted in this area.”

The filing comes weeks after a March emergency order by the PUC to suspend operations on Mariner East 1 pipeline after it was exposed at a site in West Whiteland by a sinkhole that apparently developed as a result of Mariner East 2 drilling.

In ordering the suspension, PUC Chair Gladys Brown wrote “that permitting continued flow of hazardous liquids through the Mariner East 1 pipeline without proper steps to ensure the integrity of the pipeline could have catastrophic results impacting the public.”

As a result of that order, Sunoco was required to suspend operations on Mariner East 1, which dates back to the 1930s and is permitted to carry liquid propane, butane, and ethane, and conduct extensive geophysical and seismic tests, analysis, and re-evaluations related to Mariner East 2 horizontal directional drilling activities in West Whiteland.

In addition, Sunoco has requested to change pipeline construction techniques at two drilling sites in West Whiteland. The company is seeking to switch methods from horizontal directional drilling to conventional bore at one site and from HDD to a combination of conventional bore, HDD, and open trench drilling at another site.

“Sunoco may be conducting the requisite geologic testing, but from our past experience on this project, we already know that tests have not always been reliable in predicting or preventing problems,” Dinniman said. “And given their apparent plans to continue to leap forward into this project with different drilling methods, we deserve a clearer picture of what exactly they’re jumping into.