Sunoco: Exposed pipe in Uwchlan Township is inactive, not Mariner East 1

PUC says pipe section is abandoned and does not contain product

  • Jon Hurdle

David Mano/Submitted

A Sunoco pipeline that has been exposed in a creek at Uwchlan Township, Chester County is not Mariner East 1, as the company initially told state and local officials, but an inactive line, the company said Friday.

Sunoco said Friday that an exposed pipeline in Chester County’s Uwchlan Township is inactive and is not part of the Mariner East 1 natural gas liquids line, as previously understood by the Public Utility Commission and township officials.

“We have confirmed that the section of pipe visible in the tributary to Valley Creek is an abandoned section of pipeline that was taken out of service in 2015,” said Vicki Granado, a spokeswoman for Sunoco’s parent, Energy Transfer Partners.

“At that time it was capped and filled with grout. This was accompanied by the replacement of the active Mariner East 1 pipeline in that area which was lowered to a depth of eight feet in accordance with all appropriate regulations as part of the Mariner East 1 integrity upgrade project. This has been documented and shared with the PA PUC,” she said in a statement.

Granado said Sunoco previously told PUC that the exposed line was part of ME1. “We told them this was part of the ME1 line and that we were investigating.  After further investigation, we determined this was a section of ME1 that was taken out of service in 2015, replaced and lowered to a depth of eight feet,” she said.

In a StateImpact Pennsylvania story published Thursday, Uwchlan Township officials and the PUC indicated that a four-foot stretch of pipe that was discovered exposed in a suburban development about three weeks ago was part of ME1, which carries highly pressurized natural gas liquids across the state to a Sunoco terminal at Marcus Hook in Delaware County. The apparent nature of the pipe fueled fears about its safety in a densely populated area.

But doubts about the identity of the line emerged late Thursday when the office of state Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester County) said it had heard from the PUC that the exposed pipe was not in fact part of ME1.

Also on Thursday afternoon, the PUC’s head of pipeline safety, Paul Metro, confirmed the exposed pipe was not ME1. In an email to a Chester County activist, Metro said the line does not contain product and it was abandoned four years ago.

The activist, Melissa DiBernardino, said Sunoco’s failure to correctly identify the line for several weeks fuels concerns that it does not know exactly where all its pipelines are. In June, the company was accused of giving inaccurate information about the depth of Mariner East 2 to a water contractor who hit the pipe when excavating in Middletown, Delaware County.

“How is it even possible that Sunoco self-reported its own abandoned section of ME1, thinking it was operational?” she wrote in a letter to Metro on  Thursday. “This is not reassuring from a safety perspective.”

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