WEST CHESTER, PA — Faulty sections of the Mariner East 2 pipeline project are being removed and replaced by Sunoco in Delaware County and possibly other areas around Pennsylvania, said state Senator Andy Dinniman.
“The Mariner East project involves hundreds of miles of pipeline. You have to wonder how safe they are and how Sunoco determines which are safe to use,” Dinniman said. “This only raises more serious questions and safety concerns about this hazardous materials pipeline project – one that has been characterized by a long and growing list of problems since it began last summer.”
According to field reports from Edgemont Township’s engineering contractor, segments of pipeline at the junction of Valley Road and Sweetwater Road are being removed due to “a coating flaw” or “coating issue.”
“The section of pipe with a coating flaw has been removed,” read an August 16 field report from the contractor, Yerkes Associates Inc. “A new piece of pipe is being installed. Welding is in progress. X-Ray inspection is next, coating of weld follows with inspections for the coating.”
“Crews are onsite excavating pipe recently installed. A coating issue arose on a different piece of pipe to be installed. Manufactured and shipping dates used to trace other pipes in the same shipment. Each section of pipe is recorded upon installation of location,” read another field report dated August 14.
Dinniman said the documents raise a number of questions about Sunoco’s procedures for ensuring its pipelines are safe to carry highly-volatile natural gas liquids.
“The August 14th report seems to indicate that Sunoco didn’t realize these sections of pipe were flawed until the problems were traced to others in the same manufacturer’s shipment. So, if the process is to thoroughly inspect the pipelines when they are installed, as indicated in the August 16th report, then why didn’t Sunoco detect the flaws then?” Dinniman asked. “Keep in mind, these segments of pipe were in the ground and it sounds like they were ready to go when the flaws were discovered. I shudder to think what would have happened if they weren’t.”
Dinniman also pointed out that sections of Mariner East 1, an 87-year-old repurposed petroleum pipeline that is now actively carrying hazardous natural gas liquids, have been replaced over the years. The detection and removal of faulty Mariner East 2 segments raises questions about how Mariner East 1 segments were inspected for safety.
In addition, Dinniman took aim at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), the state agency entrusted with pipeline safety in Pennsylvania.
He said the PUC, when asked, refused to share information about pipeline removal operations with his office and the public when he first learned of and inquired about it. Instead, Dinniman obtained the documentation from a local citizen’s Right-to-Know request.
“That same situation has played itself out again and again on this project. Time after time, the residents themselves are the eyes and ears of pipeline safety in Pennsylvania, rather than the state agencies that are supposed to be in charge,” Dinniman said. “The PUC appears to be either willfully oblivious or woefully inept when it comes to recognizing and addressing the ongoing safety issues and concerns associated with this project.”
“As a result, in this instance, we only know about defective segments of pipeline being removed in Delaware County. Meanwhile, citizens groups are reporting the same thing happening at other locations throughout the Commonwealth,” he added.
Dinniman said the exact same scenario is taking place when it comes to the need for an independent risk assessment of the Mariner East project.
“While the governor has called on the PUC to conduct such an assessment, it refuses to do it. So, citizens have raised private funds and contributions from impacted municipalities to get it done,” Dinniman said. “While Sunoco rushes this project along with little regard for safety and state agencies continue to fall short, local residents and municipalities are doing the real work because at the end of the day we’re going to have to live with the consequences”
Members of the citizens group, Del Chesco United for Public Safety, will unveil the preliminary results of the citizens risk assessment at a public meeting set for Tuesday, August 28 at 7 p.m. at Fugett Middle School.
Source: Andrew E. Dinniman (D), Pennsylvania State Senate, Senate District 19
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