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DEP: Pipeline construction caused sediment to enter 3 Lebanon Co. streams

Written by Daniel Walmer/The Lebanon Daily News | Nov 2, 2017 6:16 PM
Mariner_east_Snitz-Creek-spill-03.jpg

This view from N. Cornwall Rd. shows the progress of pipeline construction. A bridge spans Snitz Creek. (Photo: Michael K. Dakota, Lebanon Daily News)

(Lebanon) -- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued its second notice of violation in five days Monday against the builder of the Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline for problems involving waterways in Lebanon County.

This one stemmed from a DEP inspection on Oct. 12, in which it observed sediment flowing into an unnamed tributary of Killinger Creek in South Londonderry Township. The sediment flow was caused by failure to follow best practices for controlling erosion and sediment during construction of the pipeline, according to the notice of violation.

Pipeline owner Sunoco and contractor Welded Construction must file a report that includes:

  • any "condition of the project site which may endanger public health, safety, or the environment, or involve incidents which cause or threaten pollution."
  • the timeline of noncompliance with state regulations.
  • steps taken to prevent the problem from happening again.
  • an explanation of how it will correct the problem, "including any necessary remediation to the impacted reach of Killinger Creek."

Pam Bishop, a leader of anti-pipeline group Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County, said she is glad DEP issued the notice of violation but is concerned there was an 18-day delay between DEP's observation of the incident and the issuance of the notice.

It also isn't the first time DEP has documented sediment entering Lebanon County waterways due to pipeline construction, according to DEP documents. (Concerned Citizens received the documents via a right-to-know request filed with the Lebanon County Conservation District, and they were provided to the Lebanon Daily News.)

Other problems

On Sept. 6 - a day marked by heavy rains - a DEP inspector noticed Killinger Creek running red due to sediment-laden runoff in South Londonderry and South Annville townships.

Some of the sediment came from pipeline construction, although other runoff that appeared unrelated to pipeline activities from private driveways and a meadow was also entering Killinger Creek, the report said.

Sunoco was required to reconstruct and add additional erosion and sediment controls to prevent future sediment-laden runoff.

On Sept. 8, a Sunoco inspector found problems at the other end of the county.

Erosion and sediment control facilities were unmaintained in Heidelberg Township, and there was sediment in Middle Creek near Timber Bridge, the report said. There was also eroded soil and gullies near Sheep Hill Road, and almost all erosion and sediment control facilities in the area were in need of maintenance or replacement.

Two weeks later, many of the problems had been fixed, but temporary stabilization of an earth disturbance site remained "inadequate," a report stated.  

"Meeting the strict conditions of our environmental permits is of the utmost importance to the company," said Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields. "In instances such as these, where our sediment control structures were compromised by heavy rains, we immediately respond, replace/reinforce the controls, and recover sediment from the area. We have fully remediated the temporary impacts in these areas in cooperation with regulatory authorities.  We take seriously the responsibility to control erosion during this or any other construction project."

When complete, Sunoco's Mariner East 2 pipeline will transport natural gas liquids from western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia, crossing Lebanon County from west to east in the process.

Sunoco also received a notice of violation last Friday for a spill of drilling mud into Snitz Creek.

Fighting Atlantic Sunrise

In other pipeline news, two anti-pipeline groups in Lebanon County were among a smattering of environmental organizations that filed a petition in federal court Monday asking for an emergency halt to construction of the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline until other legal challenges are decided.

Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company recently began construction on the pipeline, which would transport natural gas from Marcellus Shale-rich areas of northeastern Pennsylvania to the already existing Transco Pipeline, crossing Lebanon County from north to south along the way.

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The Lebanon Daily News

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