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Construction of Mariner East 2 in West Cornwall Township, Lebanon County.

Mariner East: A pipeline project plagued by mishaps and delays

Background

Sunoco Logistics Mariner East pipeline project includes three lines — the Mariner East 1, the Mariner East 2, and the Mariner East 2X, all of which carry or will soon carry natural gas liquids (NGLs) from the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania across the state to a processing and export terminal in Marcus Hook, Delaware County.

In 2014, Sunoco completed its conversion of a gasoline pipeline originally built in the 1930’s to ship gas from Philadelphia area refineries to rural Pennsylvania. Reversing the flow of the 8-inch line, Sunoco’s Mariner East 1 now carries NGLs across Pennsylvania to its suburban Philadelphia facility where it is shipped overseas to manufacture plastics.

The Mariner East 2 would expand capacity to 345,000 barrels of NGLs a day. The 20-inch diameter high pressure pipeline tunnels beneath 17 counties, cuts through 2,700 properties with a 50-foot right-of-way, and crosses more than 1,200 streams or wetlands. The company used eminent domain procedings to secure right-of-ways from reluctant landowners, including one family in Huntingdon County that continues to sit in trees to protest the pipeline construction. Dozens of landowners are still tied up in litigation with the company and the state Supreme Court could decide to hear the cases.

Construction on the $2.5 billion project began in February 2017, after the Department of Environmental Protection identified hundreds of deficiencies in its water-crossing and earth-moving permits. Since then the DEP has issued more than 30 violations to the company for polluting wetlands, waterways, and destroying about a dozen private water wells. In the summer of 2017, DEP, along with several environmental groups, agreed to a consent decree with Sunoco after dozens of drilling mud spills led to the pollution of high value wetlands and trout streams, and the loss of drinking water for residents of a Chester County community.

In April, 2017 Sunoco Logistics merged with Energy Transfer Partners, the builder of the controversial Dakota Access line. Completion of the line is now about 18 months behind its original schedule. The Mariner East 2X is a 16-inch NGL line that will run parallel to the ME2.

In March 2018 Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission ordered a temporary shutdown of the Mariner East 1, saying it could have a “catastrophic” effect on public safety if it leaks. The commission said the pipeline had been exposed by the appearance of sinkholes near the construction of the two other Mariner pipelines.

Latest Posts

Sunoco says testing is done and Mariner East 1 is safe; state officials say slow down

Workers and contractors for Sunoco Pipeline have been investigating 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. The company offered to relocate residents of the five homes whose yards are crossed by the pipeline right of way.

More than a month after the Mariner East 1 pipeline was shut down over safety concerns, representatives for Sunoco say they’ve found no problems, and that they’re looking forward to getting the natural gas liquids pipeline running again. But state officials say they’re not making any decisions to put the Mariner East 1 back in [...]

Sunoco proposes changes to Mariner East 2 construction in Chester County; DEP sets public hearing

Residents of Chester County’s West Whiteland Township on Monday pressed pipeline regulators for answers on Sunoco’s Mariner East construction after it produced sink holes behind some local homes.

  Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing on plans by Sunoco Pipeline to modify its construction of the controversial Mariner East pipelines at two sites in Chester County’s West Whiteland Township. The DEP said Monday that Sunoco proposes to change its construction method for the pipelines from horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to a [...]

Pipeline opponents offer their own $10k reward for information on Mariner East vandalism

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 [...]

Sunoco to residents near sinkholes: We’ll pay to relocate you during investigation

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 has garnered two separate $10,000 rewards.

Jon Hurdle / StateImpact PA 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. The company offered to relocate residents of the five homes whose [...]

Mariner East pipeline problems take center stage at state Senate hearing

From left to right: Melissa DiBernadino, Goshen United for Public Safety, Rebecca Britton, Uwchlan Safety Coalition, and Andrew Williams, EDF testified at a joint senate hearing Tuesday.

A joint state senate hearing Tuesday was ostensibly about the broad topic of “pipeline safety,” but ended up focusing almost entirely on Sunoco’s embattled Mariner East project – a series of natural gas liquids pipelines spanning the southern portion of Pennsylvania. As StateImpact Pennsylvania has reported, the project has faced numerous problems, including construction delays, legal challenges, [...]

Chester County residents grill pipeline regulators at meeting on Mariner East

Residents of Chester County’s West Whiteland Township on Monday pressed pipeline regulators for answers on Sunoco’s Mariner East construction after it produced sink holes behind some local homes.

Residents of Chester County’s West Whiteland Township expressed their fears and frustrations to state and federal pipeline regulators at a meeting on Monday some two weeks after sink holes opened up during construction of the controversial Mariner East pipelines in the township. Homeowners asked whether their homes would be affected by drilling through the unstable [...]

Sunoco spills drilling fluid into Lebanon County creek for third time

An aerial view of Sunoco Pipeline's Mariner East 2 construction in rural Pennsylvania. Plans for a new construction technique in some locations have prompted a new round of community resistance.

Sunoco spilled more drilling fluid into a Lebanon County creek on Thursday as it resumed construction for its controversial Mariner East pipelines at that location. The Department of Environmental Protection on Friday issued its latest Notice of Violation to Sunoco for the spill – officially called an “inadvertent return” or “IR” – after the company drilled [...]

On pipeline route, some well owners OK with Sunoco’s water; others are wary

Bob Hoffman of Edgmont Township, Delaware County, says he's OK with a water 'buffalo' that Sunoco installed outside his home. It's to ensure a supply of clean water in case his private well is disrupted by drilling for the Mariner East pipelines.

A field outside Bob and Deborah Hoffman’s Delaware County home is filled with orange construction fencing, a 20-foot industrial curtain blocking their view of some surrounding houses, and hundreds of yards of steel pipeline waiting to be laid as part of the controversial Mariner East project. On the lawn about 50 yards from their front [...]

PUC shuts down Mariner East 1 pipeline, citing public safety concerns raised by sinkholes

Crews work to stabilize sinkholes in a West Whiteland Township neighborhood on March 3. The sinkholes appeared recently near a construction site for the Mariner East 2 pipeline.

Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission on Wednesday ordered a temporary shutdown of the Mariner East 1 natural gas liquids pipeline, saying it could have a “catastrophic” effect on public safety if it leaks. PUC Chairman Gladys Brown approved a request by the commission’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement for an emergency order that would halt operation of the line [...]

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