Workers and contractors for Sunoco Pipeline begin an 'additional investigation' of geological conditions behind homes at Lisa Drive, West Whiteland Township, Chester County where the company has been drilling for construction of the Mariner East 2 and 2X pipelines.
Pipeline opponents offer their own $10k reward for information on Mariner East vandalism
Susan Phillips tells stories about the consequences of political decisions on people's every day lives. She has worked as a reporter for WHYY since 2004. Susan's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election resulted in a story on the front page of the New York Times. In 2010 she travelled to Haiti to cover the earthquake. That same year she produced an award-winning series on Pennsylvania's natural gas rush called "The Shale Game." She received a 2013 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Journalism Award for her work covering natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. She has also won several Edward R. Murrow awards for her work with StateImpact. In 2013/14 she spent a year at MIT as a Knight Science Journalism Fellow. She has also been a Metcalf Fellow, an MBL Logan Science Journalism Fellow and reported from Marrakech on the 2016 climate talks as an International Reporting Project Fellow. A graduate of Columbia School of Journalism, she earned her Bachelor's degree in International Relations from George Washington University.
Pipeline workers probe the ground on Lisa Drive in West Whiteland Township where sinkholes have developed as a result of the Mariner East 2 construction. Vandalism to pipeline construction equipment nearby has garnered two separate $10,000 rewards.
Two separate $10,000 rewards are now offered for information on who vandalized a backhoe and bulldozer last week in West Whiteland Township, Chester County. The damaged construction equipment belongs to Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners, which is building the controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline through the township.
Sunoco announced its $10,000 reward last week, and pointed the finger at environmental activists. This week, the Middletown Coalition of Community Safety, a group critical of the Mariner East pipelines, has offered its own $10,000 reward, positing the damage could have been self-inflicted by Sunoco to “change the conversation” about the pipeline. Neither group has direct evidence for their competing claims.
“We condemn property damage regardless of who does it,” said Middletown Coalition of Community Safety member Eric Friedman. “Frankly, I’d like to get to the bottom of it.”
Friedman says the heavy security presence on the pipeline route makes him wonder how this vandalism happened. He is a vocal critic of the Mariner East 2 pipeline, raising issues surrounding eminent domain as well as the safety of natural gas liquids traveling through densely populated areas.
Energy Transfer Partners/Sunoco spokeswoman Lisa Dillinger rejected the Coalition’s speculation that the pipeline company would have damaged its own equipment.
“It is silly to think we would damage our own equipment and it is unequivocally not true,” wrote Dillinger in an email. The security on the pipeline route, she said, is for the safety of Sunoco’s workers and people who live and work near the construction site.
West Whiteland Township police chief Joseph Catov Jr. said the investigation is still open.
“We don’t have any leads,” Catov said. “We’re hoping someone will come forward.”
Last week, Catov said the vandals cut hydraulic and fuel lines and some wiring, tried to seal the cab of one vehicle using silicone, and may have poured sand into a diesel tank.The damage occurred April 2 and 3, Sunoco said.
A year ago, two activists with the Catholic Worker movement admitted to damaging Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access pipeline in Iowa.
The company has made similar allegations against activists in the past. Last August Energy Transfer Partners told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that pipeline opponents were to blame for adding diesel fuel to 2 million gallons of drilling fluid that spilled into Ohio’s Tuscarawas River wetland during construction of the Rover pipeline. Ohio authorities said the diesel fuel was present in a number of locations where the company’s drilling mud entered the wetland.
ETP/Sunoco’s pipeline construction has damaged well water in Chester County and created sinkholes, leading to greater opposition among residents.
Friedman said Sunoco’s statement that environmental activists damaged their equipment is “a little ironic because the damage that I know of has all been done by Sunoco.”