Pennsylvania orders reroute of part of natural gas pipeline

State environmental authorities have ordered Sunoco to reroute a portion of its Marine East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline in southeastern Pennsylvania following last month’s spill of more than 8,000 gallons of drilling fluid into a wetland area.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection halted drilling stopped after the Aug. 10 spill into wetlands and a tributary of Marsh Creek Lake in Chester County. About 33 acres of the 535-acre lake, located in a state park, were placed off limits to boating and fishing during cleanup.

Secretary Patrick McDonnell called it “yet another instance where Sunoco has blatantly disregarded the citizens and resources of Chester County with careless actions while installing the Mariner East 2 pipeline.”

“We will not stand for more of the same,” he said in a statement. “An alternate route must be used.”

Lisa Coleman, a spokeswoman for Energy Transfer, which owns Sunoco, said the company was examining the order and would work closely with the department “as we have done throughout the duration of this project.”

“Our first priority remains the safe completion and then operation of this important infrastructure project,” she said.

Sunoco has 30 days to file an appeal that would send the matter to the state Environmental Hearing Board, department spokesperson Virginia Cain said. Sunoco had to propose an alternate route for the 20-inch pipeline in 2017 after a spill that year, and Friday’s order directs the company to use that route, she said.

MORE: Thousands of gallons of drilling mud spills into lake from Mariner East pipeline project, DEP says

The new route would run for a little over a mile in an area north of where the current pipeline drilling is taking place. It would still cross two waterways and forested wetlands, and would be closer to five homes, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Exploration firms drilling in the booming Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale fields ship natural gas liquids through the Mariner East pipelines to Marcus Hook refinery and export terminal near Philadelphia, helping the U.S. become the world’s leading ethane exporter.


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