Mariner East 2 drilling stopped again after Snitz Creek mud spill

Written by Daniel Walmer/The Lebanon Daily News | Jun 6, 2018 6:45 AM

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

(Undated) -- State regulators have halted drilling for Mariner East 2 pipeline construction yet again at its troublesome Snitz Creek crossing in West Cornwall Township, Lebanon County. 

There had been at least four spills of "drilling mud" at the site in the past eight months, but this time, Sunoco developed a new solution that included injecting a material into the rock to fill cracks and using less pressure while drilling.

It doesn't appear to have worked - at least, not well enough to satisfy the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

StateImpact Pennsylvania Explainer on the Mariner East pipeline project

The agency inspected the drilling site on June 1 and found two quarts of drilling mud - a mixture of water and bentonite clay - had entered Snitz Creek, according to a notice of violation that DEP sent to pipeline owner Sunoco and posted on its website. The notice demanded that Sunoco halt drilling until DEP provides permission to resume. 

When completed, the Mariner East 2 pipeline will transport natural gas liquids from West Virginia, western Pennsylvania, and Ohio to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia. The 350-mile pipeline will run through several midstate counties -- Dauphin, Cumberland, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, York and Berks.

Sunoco's website says the project's 20-inch pipeline is expected to be in service by the third quarter of 2018 and a 16-inch pipeline will also be completed this year.

However, the project has been delayed by environmental problems and adverse actions by regulators - most recently an administrative law judge's ruling that blocked construction in Chester County. Sunoco has appealed that decision to the Pennsylvania Utility Commission.

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

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