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Judge halts Sunoco pipeline work in Chester County

Written by The Associated Press | Jul 25, 2017 8:03 AM
mariner_east_pipeline2.jpg

Construction for the Sunoco Mariner East pipeline continues on Wednesday, July 5, 2017. (Photo: Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News)

(Harrisburg) -- An environmental judge has ordered a two-week halt on horizontal drilling across Pennsylvania for construction of a natural gas pipeline pending a hearing next month.

The order Tuesday by Judge Bernard Labuskes Jr. stops such drilling at 55 sites for the Mariner East 2 pipeline until the Aug. 7 hearing of the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board. Labuskes works for the judicial arm of the state Department of Environmental Protection and decides appeals of actions by the agency.

The $2.5 billion, 350-mile pipeline across southern Pennsylvania will carry propane, butane and ethane from the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation to an export terminal near Philadelphia. The horizontal drilling is used to tunnel beneath waterways and other obstructions.

The judge said the ruling could be modified if Sunoco can provide evidence that halting drilling already underway "would cause equipment damage, a safety issue, or more environmental harm than good."

Sunoco Pipeline spokesman Jeff Shields said the company believes the full hearing "will demonstrate that we have expended every effort to meet the strict conditions of our environmental permits."

"We are continually evaluating our drilling plans, and had already voluntarily suspended work on a number of our drills while working to ensure that the concerns outlined by the DEP and Gov. (Tom) Wolf were addressed," Shields said.

Other construction work, such as conventional road boring and open-trench construction, will continue throughout the state "with safety and protection of Pennsylvania's environment as our first priorities," he said.

An earlier story appears below.

(Harrisburg) -- An environmental hearing board judge has ordered a two-week halt to horizontal directional drilling in Pennsylvania on a natural gas pipeline pending a hearing next month.

The order Tuesday halts such drilling at 55 sites for the Mariner East 2 pipeline until the Aug. 7 hearing before the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board.

The $2.5 billion, 350-mile pipeline across southern Pennsylvania is to carry propane, butane and ethane from the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation to an export terminal near Philadelphia. Horizontal directional drilling is used to tunnel beneath waterways and other obstructions.

Sunoco Pipeline spokesman Jeff Shields said the hearing "will demonstrate that we have expended every effort to meet the strict conditions of our environmental permits" and non-horizontal directional drilling construction will continue "with safety and protection of Pennsylvania's environment as our first priorities."

An earlier story appears below. 

(West Chester) -- An administrative law judge has temporarily halted work on part of a natural gas pipeline in Chester County.

The judge wants the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to hear and rule on whether Sunoco violated a 2015 settlement agreement with West Goshen Township.

The township in Chester County contends Sunoco jumped the gun on some construction earlier this month and also disputes Sunoco's decision to move a valve control station.

Sunoco says it moved the station for safety reasons and says it looks forward to convincing the utility commission that it has otherwise complied with the agreement.
The company's $2.5 billion, 350-mile (563-kilometer) Mariner East 2 pipeline across southern Pennsylvania will carry propane, butane and ethane from the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation to an export terminal near Philadelphia.

The pipeline project has been protested by Pennsylvanians who blame it for fouling their well water or spilling a clay lubricant at various sites.

On Monday, a spokesman for Sunoco confirmed the company has changed subcontractors for a stretch of the project in Blair, Huntingdon and Juniata counties.
Jeff Shield told WJAC-TV that the company no longer contracts with Ohio-based Union Pipeline for that section. Instead, Wisconsin-based Michels Corporation will act as the general contractor.

He would not comment as to why the change was made. Union Pipeline also declined to say why they will no longer work on the pipeline.

The change comes after the state Department of Environmental Protection confirmed the project's four latest violations, in Delaware and Cumberland counties.

The DEP also confirmed Monday three incidents in Blair County that involve thousands of gallons of drilling fluid, and a separate incident in Huntingdon County.

The mixture of water and bentonite clay isn't expected to have long-term effects on the environment, the department said, and complies with drinking water regulations.

An earlier story appears below. 

(West Chester) -- An administrative law judge has temporarily halted work on Sunoco's Mariner East 2 Pipeline in Chester County.

That happened because the judge wants the state Public Utility Commission to hear and rule whether Sunoco violated a 2015 settlement agreement with West Goshen Township.

The township contends Sunoco jumped the gun on some construction earlier this month and also disputes Sunoco's decision to move a valve control station.

Sunoco says it moves the station for safety reasons, and looks forward to convincing the PUC that it has otherwise complied with the agreement.

The pipeline project has been protested by other Pennsylvanians who blame it for fouling their well water or spilling a clay lubricant at various sites.

The $2.5 billion, 350-mile pipeline will carry propane, butane and ethane through several midstate counties, including Dauphin, Cumberland, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, York and Berks.

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