Sunoco Pipeline is under fire from community leaders in Southeastern Pennsylvania after spilling drilling mud three times in three days while constructing its Mariner East 2 pipeline.
Sunoco is performing horizontal directional drilling (HDD) for its new pipeline, which will run 350 miles from shale deposits on the opposite side of the state, Ohio, and West Virginia, to a refinery in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The pipeline will be used to transport ethane, butane, propane, and other highly volatile fuels underground through densely populated areas, delivering to the coast fuels that are mostly bound for export, not domestic consumption.
It’s a highly profitable venture for Sunoco, but at what cost to the community? After the third spill of toxic drilling mud, some Delaware County residents are worried. For instance, the prospective pipeline route runs within 100 feet of an elementary school in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
After halting its drilling operations, cleanup crews worked to contain and remediate the spill site. A company representative told The Delaware County Daily Times that no water sources were contaminated.
Sam Rubin, an organizer with the environmental watchdog group Food & Water Watch, indicated to The Daily Times that the governor is failing in his responsibilities to the people of the state.
“Sunoco is a dangerous operator. The one person who can take immediate action to keep our community safe is Gov. Tom Wolf,” Mr. Rubin told The Daily Times. “Gov. Wolf has not lived up to his statutory responsibility to prepare the state of Pennsylvania for the risks of a high pressure ethane pipeline in densely populated areas. We need a full, publicly available and comprehensive safety and preparedness analysis done. Gov. Wolf needs to halt this pipeline until one is complete.
“Today’s leak adds to the proof, which was already abundantly clear, that Sunoco cannot be trusted to operate in a safe manner,” Mr. Rubin added. “There have already been over 100 reported spills and other drilling accidents linked to the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline. We don’t need any more evidence.”
According to The Daily Times, it’s likely Sunoco will have to suspend its construction of the pipeline under the terms of a deal it reached with the state that mandates a shutdown and safety assessment after a spill of “50 gallons or greater, or of unknown quantity, or is a second or subsequent inadvertent return at an HDD location, drilling operations will be suspended until [the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection] inspects the site, concludes that further drilling will not result in additional returns of 50 gallons or greater, and approves a restart of drilling operations.”