WEST CHESTER (March 7, 2018) – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission today suspended operations on Sunoco’s Mariner East I pipeline due to ongoing safety and geologic stability concerns related to problems stemming from the drilling of Mariner East II, according to state Senator Andy Dinniman.
“It appears that Sunoco was so rash in trying to rush through a second pipeline (Mariner East II) that now operations have been halted on its original pipeline (Mariner East I),” Dinniman said. “Basically, they have two pipelines and right now that can’t use either of them.”
Under the PUC order, issued today by Chair Gladys Brown, Sunoco must do the following:
- Within 24 hours, run an inspection of Mariner East I, from a point one mile in either direction of the Lisa Drive in West Whiteland (where multiple sinkholes have formed).
- Within 12 hours, suspend hazardous liquids transmission on Mariner I. The pipeline, which dates back to the 1930s, is permitted to carry liquid propane, butane, and ethane.
- Conduct extensive geophysical and seismic tests, analysis, and reevaluations related to horizontal direct drilling activities at the Lisa Drive site.
It is estimated that the suspension will last 10 to 14 days, during which Sunoco will conduct the tests and inspections and share findings with the PUC’s Bureau of Inspection and Enforcement.
Sunoco will not be permitted to resume service on the pipeline until bureau’s pipeline safety standards and concerns are satisfied.
In ordering the suspension, Brown wrote, “I agree with the BIE (Bureau of Inspection and Enforcement) that permitting continued flow of hazardous liquids through the ME1 pipeline without proper steps to ensure the integrity of the pipeline could have catastrophic results impacting the public. To the extent that the relief requested may be injurious to the members of the public who are shippers on the Mariner East 1 pipeline, the risks to the general public outweigh the risks to the shippers.”
Dinniman said the order reconfirms what he and citizens have been saying about this project for two years.
“It’s a crying shame that a thorough geologic assessment related to the risk of putting another pipeline in this area was not completed in the first place. Obviously, it should have been, “ Dinniman said. “Chairwoman Brown clearly wrote that without a clear analysis of the geology in this area, which is along a fault line, we could be at risk of a catastrophic event. We thank Chairwoman Brown and the PUC for doing this review and ordering the suspension.
“At the end of the day, after all we’ve been through on this project, how can anyone trust Sunoco? I will continue to work with the citizens to remain vigilant. We certainly are prepared to review, scrutinize, and question anything Sunoco says related to the required tests and analysis of the site,” he added.