Construction Halts on Sunoco Mariner East Pipeline, Pennsylvania Official Say

Pennsylvania state regulators temporarily shut down a major pipeline after sinkholes in the Philadelphia suburbs exposed the 8-inch-diameter pipe, threatening nearby homes and a rail line.

The Public Utility Commission chairwoman ordered an immediate shutdown Wednesday to Sunoco Pipeline's Mariner East 1 system, saying that its continued operation and construction of the adjoining Mariner East 2 pipeline "could have catastrophic results."

“Through their reckless construction of the Mariner East 2, they have created extremely dangerous conditions for the Mariner East 1," Food & Water Watch organizer Sam Rubin said.

"That Sunoco has created these conditions is clear and final proof that this whole pipeline project needs to be shut down for good. We’re still waiting for Governor Wolf to act.”

Chester County residents say three sinkholes that forced a family from their home were caused by a controversial pipeline.

The pipeline carries as many as 70,000 barrels of natural gas liquids every day to a company terminal in Marcus Hook.

The sinkholes affecting the pipeline developed within 50 feet of homes and near an Amtrak rail line.

Earlier this week, Whiteland Township resident TJ Allen showed NBC10 a giant sinkhole just several feet from his back patio. It is the second sinkhole in three months, he said. 

"There were 11 cement trucks that dumped 11 loads of cement in my yard," he said. 

The most recent sinkhole was big enough to fit Allen's truck and car inside, he added. And the ongoing construction is now damaging his driveway, Allen said. 

A similar sinkhole opened up in Allen's neighbor's yard. That family has been forced to relocate while crew work to repair damage to the property, Allen said.

State Sen. Andy Dinniman has come out against the pipeline, which has been fraught with controversy since it was approved without the consent of residents and businesses. 

"This pipeline is adjacent. It's adjacent to retirement communities and nursing homes," Dinniman said.

Sunoco will inspect the pipeline and test the ground. Shipments won't be able to resume until investigators sign off. That's expected to take 10 days or more.

The company's spokesman says it's working on a response.

See a before and after of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline construction below:

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Copyright AP - Associated Press
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