Pennsylvania DEP Shuts Down Sunoco Pipeline Construction

The pipeline known as Mariner East II has been beset by construction issues and allegations of permit violations over the past year.

What to Know

  • Mariner East 2 would traverse 17 counties, but many residents have complained of tainted water supplies and pipeline spillage.
  • The pipeline would carry natural gas liquid (NGLs) from Ohio and the Pittsburgh area to a facility in Marcus Hook, Delaware County.
  • NGLs include propane, ethane, butane and natural gasoline that can be used for heating, cooking and vehicle fuels or turned into plastics.

The on-again-off-again construction of a 350-mile pipeline through 17 Pennsylvania counties was halted Wednesday because of "egregious and willful violations" of state laws, according to an order issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The state DEP ordered that all operations on the Mariner East II pipeline be stopped immediately until the pipeline developer, Sunoco, bring construction into compliance and meet a new set of requirements.

"Sunoco's unlawful conduct ... demonstrates a lack of ability or intention on the part of Sunoco to comply with the Clean Streams Law, the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act, and the permits issued thereunder," according to the DEP order

Numerous violations were sited in the order, ranging from unapproved construction to failure to inspect work done by contractors.

Sunoco, in a statement through a spokesman, said the company is committed "to the highest levels of construction expertise and our dedication to preserving and protecting the environment in which we conduct our work."

The company would "expeditiously" submit all the reports and documents required in the order, according to the statement.

The turbulent recent history of the pipeline included a two-week shutdown last July when the DEP weighed more oversight following numerous local challenges from municipalities, residents and environmental groups. Construction resumed in August after Sunoco agreed to stronger oversight.

The DEP requires Sunoco, within 30 days of the order, submit a list of all drilling contractors and subcontractors who have worked or will work on the pipeline, issue a report that "fully explains the failures that led to the violations" and "the steps Sunoco proposes to implement to ensure that those violations will not re-occur."

Sunoco is also ordered to make numerous immediate changes, within 10 days of the order, to areas of construction that have already taken place, unless it can provide justification for an extension of time needed to make the changes.

"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."

For a complete list of the violations cited, and the improvements required within the next 10 days, read the DEP's full order here.

The new proposed pipeline will be built parallel to the existing line before splitting off in Middletown to meet at Chester Township. View Larger
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