- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued an order suspending construction permits for the Mariner East 2 pipeline, meaning Sunoco Pipeline LP must immediately halt all construction activity.
- Before Sunoco can resume construction, regulators say the company must address all impacts to private water wells and submit a detailed operations plan for moving forward. Last month, the company came under scrutiny for unauthorized drilling and contamination of a pair of private wells.
- The pipeline will carry 345,000 barrels/day of natural gas liquids from the Marcellus Shale, including propane, ethane and butane to markets in Pennsylvania. The system is expected to begin operation in the second quarter of this year.
This is not the first time Sunoco has been forced to shut down construction of the Mariner East 2 line, but a stern statement from the DEP regulators indicated it could be some time before the company can restart.
“Until Sunoco can demonstrate that the permit conditions can and will be followed, DEP has no alternative but to suspend the permits,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a statement. “We are living up to our promise to hold this project accountable to the strong protections in the permits.”
The suspension means Sunoco must cease all construction activity on the pipeline project, except for maintenance of erosion controls and limited maintenance of horizontal directional drilling equipment.
Before Sunoco can resume work, it must satisfy several conditions including: addressing all impacts to private water wells in Silver Spring Township, Cumberland County; identifying all in-progress or upcoming construction activities; and it must submit a detailed operations plan outlining additional environmental measures and controls.
Joseph Otis Minott, executive director the Clean Air Council, expressed relief to the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Finally, DEP and the governor’s office are taking the egregious behavior of Sunoco seriously,” he said.
Last year, an administrative law judge at the Pennsylvania PUC ordered Sunoco to halt work while it examined a dispute over the location of a valve and other infrastructure.