WEST CHESTER (September 5, 2017) – State Senator Andy Dinniman said today he was forced to file a Right-to-Know Request to obtain a list of private groundwater wells located near the path of Sunoco Pipeline’s Mariner East II project in Chester County.
“While I find it ludicrous that I have to file a legal request to obtain information that is public anyway, this is what must be done to protect my constituents and our water resources,” Dinniman said. “The department failed to ensure that residents were notified in a timely manner the first time around and residential well water supplies were impacted and some permanently damaged. I’m not about to stand by and wait for that to happen again.”
The request, filed with the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), calls for the department to provide its “list of private groundwater wells in Chester County identified by Sunoco Pipeline L.P. within 450 feet of all horizontal directional drilling alignments, including parcels that would be adjacent to, but not directly crossed by the Pennsylvania Pipeline Project and referenced in the revised Water Supply Assessment, Preparedness, Prevention and Contingency Plan.”
Dinniman, who serves on the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, said he needs to access that information to ensure that DEP is doing its due diligence in properly ensuring that residents located near and potentially impacted by the pipeline route are notified, as required under the revised water permit.
Dinniman initially requested that information from DEP in a July 14 letter. DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell responded on July 19 stating that while, “…the company has shared information on the private water supplies with DEP. This list is not publicly available, as it contains information of private residents, and cannot be shared for confidentiality reasons.”
Dinniman said he has no idea why information that is available to the public in real estate listings and elsewhere should be shrouded in secrecy, but that the response raised his already heightened doubts and concerns regarding DEP’s ability or willingness to do its job.
“Past evidence and past inaction demonstrates that DEP is unable to adequately ensure that the list is accurate. In addition, I’ve heard from several impacted residents who said they were never notified about impending construction,” Dinniman said. “We know that the first time around the list was woefully deficient.
“How am I and my constituents to blindly trust DEP to enforce the water permit given its poor track record on this project? DEP has not been able to verify this information and to say that its private or confidential prevents anyone else from verifying it. How can we ensure that the department has stepped up enforcement when it makes paper-thin excuses when asked for proof that it’s now doing the job the right way?”
Under the law, the department has five business days to respond to Dinniman’s request.
Dinniman said it was vitally important that he receive this information in order to verify its accuracy prior to approval of Sunoco’s revised water permit.