Commonwealth Collects $497,000 in Penalties from Sunoco for Violations Along Mariner East 2 Pipeline

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HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently ordered Sunoco Pipeline L.P. (Sunoco), which operates numerous petroleum and natural gas pipelines in Pennsylvania, to pay $497,000 as a result of a consent order and agreement for violating the Clean Streams Law, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Code, and the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act. The violations happened in Lebanon County in connection to the Mariner East 2 pipeline project. Sunoco satisfied its payment obligation on Tuesday, February 16, 2021.

In addition to the $497,000 in penalties paid to DEP, Sunoco also paid $25,855 to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. From the $497,000, a portion, $490,200 went to the Clean Water Fund, and $6,800 went to the Dams and Encroachments Fund.

Sunoco’s infractions include unauthorized discharges of drilling fluids consisting of bentonite clay and water, also known as inadvertent returns into Snitz Creek and failure to notify DEP of multiple losses of circulation. Inadvertent returns (IR) are unauthorized discharges of drilling fluid to land and water. Losses of circulation occur when drilling fluids escape under the surface and do not return to the surface.

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Between May 21, 2020, and August 13, 2020, Sunoco did not notify DEP of 32 losses of circulation.

Additionally, between September 17, 2020, and October 19, 2020, DEP received 12 notices from Sunoco that inadvertent returns had occurred.

On October 19, 2020, an IR event expressed itself at approximately 20 locations along Snitz Creek. Sunoco installed a sandbag dam and corrugated plastic pipe flume within Snitz Creek. Sunoco did not obtain a permit or other approval from DEP to install a sandbag cofferdam or stream enclosure within Snitz Creek.

In addition to the fee of $497,000, Sunoco must submit a clean up and restoration plan with a proposed implementation schedule for Snitz Creek by Sunday, February 28, 2021.

The Restoration Plan shall include a detailed resource delineation and function assessment in the areas impacted by all previous IR events, as well as reference areas. Upon DEP’s approval, Sunoco shall implement the Restoration Plan, unless DEP grants an extension.

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Sunoco resumed activities at Snitz Creek on February 17, 2021, following DEP approval.

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