Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Mariner East 2 pipeline permits suspended by Pennsylvania regulators

Mariner East 2 pipeline permits suspended by Pennsylvania regulators

In November, the state of OH filed a lawsuit against Rover Pipeline, operated and majority-owned by Energy Transfer Partners, for allegedly polluting state waterways as it constructed the 713-mile pipeline to transport natural gas from southwest Pennsylvania across OH and into MI and Ontario, Canada.

DEP said in its report that it responded to a complaint on December 5 that a stream crossing was installed at Perry Bridge site over Shaeffer Run in Toboyne Township, Perry County, without a permit.

The suspension means Sunoco must cease all construction activity on the pipeline project, except for maintenance of erosion controls and limited maintenance of horizontal directional drilling equipment.

"Until Sunoco can demonstrate that the permit conditions can and will be followed, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has no alternative but to suspend the permits", Pennsylvania DEP Sec. "The department is going to hold Sunoco and every other permittee out there accountable for making sure that they're meeting those permit requirements".

DEP has issued dozens of environmental violations to Sunoco since May.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said Wednesday it had no choice but to suspend construction permits and stop construction of the Mariner East 2 (ME2) project as violations and spills have continued for months. The order requires us to submit various reports related to current and future construction activities.

"We intend to expeditiously submit these reports and we are confident that we will be reauthorized to commence work on this project promptly", Shields said, in a statement. "We also reiterate our commitment to the highest levels of construction expertise and our dedication to preserving and protecting the environment in which we conduct our work", the statement said.

Among the violations noted, DEP in the order says that Sunoco conducted "unauthorized pipeline installation activities" at the Dauphin County Horizontal Directional Drilling site between November 8 and November 20.

Wetland C28 in Lower Swatara Township is the "receiving water" for discharges from the Dauphin HDD site, according to the order.

Kurt Knaus, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance, a pipeline advocacy group made up of local chambers of commerce, labor unions and engineers, urged Sunoco and DEP to quickly resolve the issues.

Sunoco violated its permits, using unauthorized drilling methods that leaked nontoxic drilling fluid into trout streams and water wells across the state, according to the DEP.

The suspension order issued January 3 also refers to unauthorized activities at a pipeline site in an upland area east of Locust Point Road in Silver Spring Township, Cumberland County. "This order provides further evidence that the project should never have been authorized by DEP in the first place".

Sunoco on December 18 notified DEP that it received two complaints in three days from separate water well owners in Silver Spring Township, saying their water was cloudy. ETP is a key player in the controversial Dakota Access pipeline that, like Mariner East, was also greenlighted by relevant authorities.

Last summer, a Pennsylvania court ordered Mariner East II construction temporarily suspended following numerous objections, until Sunoco agreed to stronger project oversight from the state.

In May, Sunoco officials had said they hoped to complete the pipeline in 2018. "This suspension will remain in place until the operator demonstrates compliance with the administrative order that DEP issued".

Already, the original Mariner East Pipeline is sending ethane to Marcus Hook. "We hope the Wolf Administration will take this opportunity to reevaluate its insufficient approach to the permitting of pipeline projects and other fossil fuel projects throughout Pennsylvania".

"The citizens of this Commonwealth clearly support our legislators who are now saying "halt the project", we need an unbiased risk assessment".

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