Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Sunoco, regulators get a withering review at Pa. hearing

                                                             Mariner East pipeline construction (Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News)
Laura Legere reports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Pennsylvania environmental regulators were aware for days that collapsed soil along the path of the Mariner East pipeline construction project had exposed a parallel pipeline in Chester County this month before they informed safety regulators at another agency, according to testimony at a state Senate hearing on Tuesday.

Instead, safety inspectors with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission first learned about the sinkholes from local residents on March 3.

Four days later, the commission ordered an emergency shutdown of the exposed pipeline, known as Mariner East 1, to avoid potentially “catastrophic results” until the ethane, butane and propane pipeline’s stability can be confirmed.

Domenic Rocco, who runs the state Department of Environmental Protection’s regional permit coordination office, acknowledged that department officials did not notify the PUC when they first recognized subsidences related to Sunoco Pipeline’s Mariner East pipeline expansion project in November and only belatedly communicated with the PUC when more sinkholes appeared this month.

Communication between the organizations is improving, he said.
Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-Chester, said that is not enough. “If you’ve been in better contact since November, it certainly wasn’t shown in this situation.”
If any entity received more critical attention than the DEP during the joint committee hearing in Harrisburg, it was Sunoco Pipeline — the Energy Transfer Partners subsidiary whose cross-state Mariner East expansion project is designed to ferry vastly more natural gas liquids from western to eastern Pennsylvania.
State senators and residents along the pipeline’s path repeatedly rebuked the company, arguing that the project’s mounting environmental and communication failures have created a backlash that is making it difficult for other companies to build natural gas infrastructure in Pennsylvania.
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