WEST CHESTER (February 8, 2018) – State Senator Andy Dinniman today issued the following statement in response to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announcement of an agreement with Sunoco, including a $12.6 million fine, regarding permit violations related to the Mariner East II pipeline project. As a result of that agreement, construction on the pipeline can continue.

DEP’s job is to protect the environment. That has not been done in this case and $12.6 million won’t change that. Not only has the damage already been done, there is no indication whatsoever that any of the fines collected will go to those impacted by the pipeline here in our region.

Keep in mind, the very agency (DEP) that is collecting this fine is the same one that failed to strongly enforce its permit from the get-go and, in doing so, allowed many of these violations, including drilling fluid spills and damage to local wells and aquifers, to occur.

Furthermore, nothing in this agreement – or in any action or correspondence from DEP, the Public Utility Commission, or current administration for that matter – adequately addresses our ongoing concerns regarding the proximity of the pipeline to schools, daycare facilities, parks, libraries, and senior living communities.

It’s almost as if they are completely tone-deaf in that regard. And nothing in today’s announcement or settlement indicates that they understand, appreciate, or hear those concerns now. In short, after more than six months of our calling for better pipeline safety measures, they still don’t get it. 

The bottom line is you cannot put a price tag on the health, safety, and well-being of our communities. We still don’t have an independent risk and safety assessment of Mariner East II. We still don’t have any regulation of the placement of intrastate pipelines in Pennsylvania. We still don’t have rules governing the placement or permitting of pipelines in high-density or high-consequence areas.

What we have is a $12.6 million fine. And it seems to me that the very least DEP could do is dedicate a portion of that to obtaining an independent risk assessment of Mariner East II, or even support our effort do so. Our residents and their families deserve to know and thoroughly understand the risks and potential safety issues at stake. So far, citizens have already raised $14,000 (of a $50,000 goal) to obtain the assessment. There is no reason why the administration cannot bridge that gap. After all, that’s something it should have done from the beginning.”

 

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