Could Mariner East 2 pipeline construction ruin midstate wells?

Written by Daniel Walmer/Lebanon Daily News | Jul 24, 2017 4:27 AM

Crews place pipe for the Sunoco Mariner East pipeline along Tice Lane in Cornwall Borough as construction on Sunoco's Mariner East pipeline continued on Friday, June 16, 2017. (Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News)

After Chester County incident, experts say there are no guarantees

(Lebanon) -- When Marcia Stober heard that the Mariner East 2 pipeline was going to be built within 800 feet of her family's farm, she was nervous.

That's because the farm, Bare Foot Organics in West Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, is a federally certified organic farm - and even a small leak from the pipeline could contaminate their property and jeopardize that organic certification, Stober said. Her free-range chickens drink water poured from her underground well.

"We fought it, and we fought it, and we fought it," she said, but with little success - and now, construction is underway.

Recent events have only increased her apprehension.

Two pipelines will likely soon cross the Lebanon County landscape. Here's what to expect during pipeline construction. Wochit

In West Whiteland Township, Chester County, 15 households reported wells turning cloudy or drying up. Pipeline builder Sunoco has been paying for bottled water for the residents and has agreed to pay to hook them up to a public water supply. It's led some legislators and environmental groups to call for a halt to drilling associated with the pipeline.

Experts say it's unlikely but not impossible that a similar problem will occur again in the center part of the state - and they recommend the dozens of residents with wells potentially impacted by the pipeline take steps to protect themselves in case it does.

Vulnerable wells

The Mariner East 2 pipeline will transport natural gas liquids from Marcellus-Shale rich areas in western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia. In the process, it will cross northeastern Cumberland County, the tip of northern York County, southern Dauphin and Lebanon counties, and the northern tip of Lancaster County.

Much of that land is farmland without public water supplies. There were about 40 landowners in the Dauphin/York/Cumberland region and about 50 landowners in the Lancaster/Lebanon/Berks region who asked Sunoco to test their wells prior to construction of the pipeline, according to company spokesman Jeff Shields.

Like West Whiteland Township, much of that land contains limestone - the most vulnerable rock for conditions that experts say make well contamination more likely.


This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and the Lebanon Daily News.

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