DEP halts construction of Sunoco’s $2.5B Mariner East 2 pipeline
Buy Photo The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Wednesday halted construction of Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 shale pipeline, dealing a major setback to a $2.5 billion energy infrastructure project that has been plagued by spills and contamination of private water wells.
The state agency said suspension of Sunoco Pipeline LP’s construction permits was necessary “to correct the egregious and willful violations” cited in its 20-page order, including unauthorized drilling to install the pipeline and failing to notify the agency when discharges or spills of drilling fluid occurred.
The order suspends permits until Sunoco satisfies several conditions, including submitting a detailed plan that outlines additional measures to minimize the spills of drilling fluid, which are known as “inadvertent returns.” Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields said the company received the suspension order Wednesday morning and intended to comply with the conditions.
“The movement to stop the pipeline will be using this temporary halt to build the power we know we’ll need to protect communities from Mariner East once and for all.” State Sen. Andy Dinniman (D., Chester), who has called for stricter regulatory oversight of pipeline projects, said the state’s action was overdue and insufficient.
Supporters of the Sunoco project, such as the Marcellus Shale Coalition, responded to DEP’s action with a call for “the safe and responsible construction of these important infrastructure projects.” Critics say that the state’s enthusiasm for the project, and its casual enforcement of its rules, has encouraged Sunoco to take a cavalier approach to compliance with the terms of its water-crossing and sedimentation permits.
DEP, the governor’s office were being very supportive of them.” The suspension will remain in place until Sunoco demonstrates compliance with the permits, Wolf’s spokesman said Wednesday in a statement.
The Mariner East 2 pipeline is the second of three pipelines designed to carry gas liquids from the shale region of Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia to a terminal that Sunoco has built on the site of its former Marcus Hook refinery.
Sunoco also has commitments to add a third, 16-inch-diameter pipeline to the route as soon as the ME2 is completed.
All together, the pipelines could carry up to 675,000 barrels a day to Marcus Hook.
The DEP’s full order suspending the permits can be found on its website.