Officials say no drinking water impacted by Sunoco pipeline rupture
The state Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA continue to sample water downstream from a gasoline pipeline break in Lycoming County, and say so far no levels of petroleum have been detected that would risk public health. Terry Maenza, a spokesman for American Water, which serves about 12,000 customers in the area near the accident says their sampling has also found no traces of the contaminant. American Water had shut down its intake valves and asked customers to conserve water on Friday after an estimated 55,000 gallons of gasoline spilled into a tributary of the Loyalsock Creek. The Loyalsock runs into the Susquehanna River. Officials speculate that the flood waters that likely caused the pipeline rupture were so heavy, that the leaked fuel was quickly diluted as it flowed downstream.
“Everything is back to normal,” said Maenza. He says the company lifted it’s conservation request and resumed operations on Sunday.
The flood waters have receded and Sunoco has removed the broken section of pipe, which was about 10 feet downstream from a bridge washed out by heavy rains. Sunoco officials say the bridge washed into the exposed pipe, which had been buried 5 feet below the creek.
“Given the position of the pipe and the location of the bridge before and after the event, it’s clear that the bridge was responsible for the damage to the pipe,” said David R. Chalson, Sunoco Logistics senior vice-president for operations.
But Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields says the investigation will continue to determine the exact amount of gasoline released. Shields says the plan to repair the 500 foot section of pipe includes burying it deeper underground through horizontal directional drilling, which could reach 30 or 60 feet below the surface.
DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell and Gov. Tom Wolf visited the site on Sunday.
“DEP staff will continue to monitor water systems that could be affected by this spill,” said Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “And looking forward, DEP will be working with the communities affected by these floods to rebuild bridges and culverts in the area.”
DEP reports that sampling continues downstream in the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg. The only sampling that found high levels of gasoline was near the break in the Loyalsock Creek.
10/25/16 *This story has been updated with more information from Sunoco.