Concern grows over Sunoco pipeline plan

from the Delaware County Daily Times

by Rick Kauffman

September 13, 2016

MIDDLETOWN >> Of the approximately 350 miles planned in the Mariner East Project pipeline that spans in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the 11.4 miles that run through Delaware County might be the most crucial. 

With the promise of nearly 30,000 jobs with all union workers conducting the working on the facility and building the pipeline, the economic impact has been favorably viewed for workers in Delaware County. However, on Monday a local Senate-hopeful aimed to give voice to residents who have growing concerns over environmental impact. 

“Coming this close to a school where some of your kids might go to is not OK,” said Marty Molloy, of Nether Providence, who was under pressure at a campaign event Monday by members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 654 and the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance. 

“I’m asking us to slow the process down so we can be thoughtful about public safety,” Molloy said.

Molloy is the challenger to state Sen. Tom Killion, R-9, of Middletown. Molloy was defeated by Killion in an April special election for the seat vacated by Dominic Pileggi.

Pete Peterson, the Killion campaign spokesman, said the senator has taken an interest in hearing from concerned residents.

“Tom has been responsive to residents and has been touching base with regulatory administrations over the course of the last several months,” Peterson said. “We want to take a look at all the layers of oversight and hear from first responders to see what else needs to be done.” 

Molloy felt pushback Monday by union members who support of the pipeline project, which he contends needs more oversight.

“This isn’t just about getting the pipe in the ground, this is about getting it in the ground safely, environmentally safely, but then what happens next?” asked Molloy.

Via the facility in Marcus Hook, the $3 billion Sunoco Logistics Mariner East 1 project repurposed the 1930s oil pipeline to carry natural gas liquids — propane and ethane — where it is processed, processed, stored and distributed to local, domestic and waterborne markets.

With the proposed Mariner East 2 pipeline, which will run parallel to the existing line, the new pipeline will expand the total takeaway capacity to 345 thousand barrels per day for interstate and intrastate propane, ethane and butane service.

Currently, Sunoco Logistics, which is headquartered in Newtown Square, is going through a permit process with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which Public Affairs Manager Joe McGinn said was contained in a 30,000-page document.

“We’re still in the middle of the technical review, which after the DEP goes through public comment is reviewed by three different regional offices,” McGinn said.

The concern is that since Sunoco Logistics recently cleared a hurdle that enabled the gas supplier the rights of a public utility — the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court voted 5-2 in July — granting them the authority to enact eminent domain on properties that don’t agree to development proposals. 

And while Sunoco Logistics continues the process for Chapter 102 and Chapter 105 permits from the DEP, which account for earth disturbances and for the crossing of waterways and wetlands, the fear is that people might sign easements that enable for more than they bargained.

“Frankly they shouldn’t be approaching people with easements without the permits,” said Lynda Farrell of the Pipeline Safety Coalition. “People might be signing away easements that may not be necessary.” 

While McGinn said that much of the process has been working concurrently, for example, the permits are being processed as the easements are being obtained, he said that the Mariner East 2 pipeline will be placed alongside existing pipelines. McGinn said 90 percent of the pipeline would be in parallel lines.

“With an easement, each one is specific to a property owner and we’re acquiring easements specifically for pipelines carrying hydrocarbons,” McGinn said. “It specifies an entry point and a work area.”

However, in looking at the map of the proposed Mariner East 2 pipeline, the majority of the 11.4 miles that run through Delaware County — specifically along Chester Creek up through Middletown — the lines are separate, with the new pipeline splitting in Chester Township and rejoining west of Lima.

Of that new construction, there is a contingent of concerned parents from Glenwood Elementary School who are concerned with the planned Mariner East 2 coming within 650 feet of the school. 

Calling Sunoco “the worst safety record in the industry,” the parents and residents of the formed Middletown Coalition for Community Safety who commissioned an independent risk assessment study centered on Glenwood Elementary and were planning to release the results of the findings Monday night.

“Given the densely populated nature of the area, and close proximity of the proposed pipeline to private residences, schools, day care, geriatric and assisted living facilities, Sunoco’s plan is impossibly impractical and insanely reckless,” said the MCCS in a statement.

However, members of the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance were quick to respond to those claims. Bill Adams, president of the Local 654 branch of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Anthony Gallagher, the business manager for the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 420, said that safety was the No. 1 priority of building the pipeline, and the 30,000 potential jobs should not be overlooked. 

“Sunoco Logistics Mariner East 2 will be built with state of the art technology to ensure the highest regard for safety of the communities it runs through,” Adams said.

The Mariner East 2 has a projected start date of first quarter 2017.

Read more here.