EAST WHITELAND (January 12, 2018) – State Senator Andy Dinniman brought together residents impacted by the Mariner East II pipeline and members of local and regional citizens groups to plan a strategy for obtaining an independent risk and safety assessment of the project.
About 50 residents and members of various community pipeline safety groups including, the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety, the Uwchlan Safety Coalition, Upper Uwchlan Residents for Safety, Del Chesco United for Pipeline Safety, Protect Penn-Delco, the Pipeline Safety Coalition, East Goshen Safety and Environmental Advocates, Goshen United for Public Safety, West Whiteland Residents for Pipeline Safety, Food and Water Watch, and the Chester County Sierra Club, gathered at the East Whiteland Township building on Thursday evening.
“It’s hard to believe that an independent risk and safety assessment was not required to begin with, but the message here is: where government falls short, we’re not only going to demand that it be held accountable; we’re going to do it ourselves,” Dinniman said.
On January 3, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an order suspending Sunoco Logistics’ permits for the Mariner East II Pipeline until several environmental issues are satisfied.
However, despite the DEP order, some work on the pipeline continues. To the frustration of many pipeline critics, safety advocates, and impacted residents, the permit suspension only applies to DEP-regulated activities such as drilling digging, disturbing soil or crossing water. Crews have been spotted welding and doing other work on the pipeline in recent days – such work was not covered by the DEP order.
Dinniman pointed out that while the DEP suspension order finally addresses some of the environmental issues that have been raised for six months or more, it wholly ignores the serious and growing public safety concerns regarding the proximity of the pipeline to schools, daycare facilities, parks, libraries, and senior living.
He also noted that the Mariner East pipelines are not carrying natural gas, but highly combustible and dangerous natural gas liquids such as butane and propane – derivatives which have a larger blast zone and will be piped through densely populated and high-consequence areas in our region.
“In light of the DEP, the Public Utility Commission (PUC), and the governor’s office failing to address some very real and valid safety concerns related to the Mariner East pipelines, we’re moving forward on our own to obtain an independent risk and safety assessment of the entire project,” Dinniman said.
On Thursday evening, the residents formed four committees dedicated to obtaining an independent risk assessment, as well as supporting legislative action and public outreach goals.
- Risk and Safety Assessment Coordinating Committee – to outline the details and specifics needed in the assessment.
- Fundraising Committee – to raise the necessary funds and resources needed for an independent safety assessment.
- Legislative Action Committee – to support bills in the state legislature, introduced by Dinniman and Senator John Rafferty, aimed at improving pipeline safety and notification regulations.
- Public Outreach Committee – to spread public awareness of the risk and safety concerns associated with the Mariner East pipelines.
Dinniman said that it was good to see that individuals concerned about the pipeline are continuing to unite in growing grassroots coalition with a common goal – this time to obtain an independent risk assessment of the Mariner East project.
“We’ve built a very strong and successful coalition and I’m confident that we have the expertise, the energy, and the commitment to get it done,” Dinniman said. “The partial, temporary suspension offers a key opportunity for our state agencies and the governor’s office to conduct a thorough and in-depth review and independent risk and safety assessment of the Mariner East Project. I’ve called on them to do so and I will continue to. But if they won’t do it and do it the right way, right away, we will. We’re not about to sit on our hands and wait for government to do its job when it comes to Mariner East – especially not after its already abysmal track record on this project.”
Future committee meetings are currently being planned. Those interested in participating should contact Don Vymazal of Senator Dinniman’s office at email@example.com or (610) 692-2112.