WEST CHESTER (July 3, 2019) – A public meeting on issues related to the Mariner East pipeline project will be held on Thursday, July 18 at 7 p.m. at the West Whiteland Township Building, state Senator Andy Dinniman announced today.
The meeting will focus on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) consideration of new and potentially more impactful drilling techniques, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) current review of safety regulations for hazardous materials pipelines, and updates on pipeline bills in Harrisburg, as well as various other issues.
“July marks two years that the long nightmare known as the Mariner East pipeline project began negatively impacting our neighborhoods, communities, and homes,” Dinniman said. “It began with a damaged aquifer and contaminated residential wells. It continued with ongoing construction problems, geologic instability, many, many inadvertent returns, spills, sinkholes, exposed pipelines, air and water pollution concerns, the threat of eminent domain, excessive noise related to construction activities, and other negative impacts to our quality of life.
“Unfortunately, it continues today and as we continue to fight for our public safety, environmental protection, and private property rights, it’s time to come together, refocus, reenergize, and renew our efforts because the battle is far from over,” he added.
DEP is currently reviewing new drilling methods proposed by Sunoco/ET that threaten to further negatively impact the area of Lisa Drive in West Whiteland, a site that has already seen multiple sinkholes and where seven residents have been forced from their homes by pipeline-related operations and the resultant geologic instability. After horizontal direct drilling and flex-bore drilling techniques have failed nearby, Sunoco/ET is now proposing the use of a process called “direct-pipe boring” through the same geologically questionable area and across a known fault-line.
Dinniman, who serves on the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, said he will update residents on what is known about the proposed technique, which seems far more invasive the previous drilling methods.
“Twice now they’ve been permitted to try to construct this pipeline through this residential neighborhood and twice they’ve apparently failed, leaving us with the fallout,” Dinniman said. “The latest proposal could potentially jeopardize what’s left of the Lisa Drive area. Residents need to make sure they know that facts, so we can put renewed and heightened pressure on the DEP to hold Sunoco/ET to task when it comes to public and environmental safety.”
Another topic of discussion will be the PUC’s current review of its safety regulations regarding hazardous material pipelines – a review that apparently comes in response to ongoing problems with and concerns about Mariner East.
Dinniman said the meeting will organize residents in submitting public comments on the rulemaking process. The deadline to do so is August 28.
“From past experience, we know that the PUC doesn’t always seem to be as responsive to our concerns as it should be,” Dinniman said. “In addition to filing comments, we need to be prepared to follow-up, keep the focus on safety, and hold the PUC accountable.”
In addition, Dinniman will update residents on the status of two pipeline safety bills that were overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee in June.
Senate Bill 284, introduced by Senator Tom Killion, would mandate pipeline operators provide current Emergency Response Plans to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) which could be responsibly and confidentially shared with county emergency services agencies for the purpose of coordinating a response to a pipeline incident.
Dinniman’s legislation, Senate Bill 258, calls for requiring pipeline operators to meet annually with county emergency management officials to provide, at minimum, vital and specific pipeline safety information, including identification of facilities, products and pressure transported, emergency contact information for the operator, and information on how to recognize, report, and respond to a product release. Currently, they are not required to do so.
The meeting is free and open to the public. The West Whiteland Township building is located at 101 Commerce Drive in Exton.