Sunoco Mariner East 2
In August, 2017, in resolution of legal action the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, in partnership with the Clean Air Council and Mountain Watershed Association brought against the Sunoco Mariner East project, the groups entered into a settlement with the DEP and Sunoco to prevent spills of drilling fluid associated with Sunoco’s horizontal directional drilling and to protect drinking water supplies and fragile ecosystems across the state. Since then, more spills have occurred, adding to the over 100 spills of drilling fluid to date. For example, during the course of less than a week in early October, 2017 there were four spills at a site in Chester County located at Boot Road and Enterprise Drive. Drilling continued anyway.
In response, on October 24, 2017, the organizations filed a motion requesting that the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board direct the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to abide by a court-ordered protocol designed to prevent spills of drilling fluid along the Mariner East 2 pipelines.
The August settlement had been adopted by the Environmental Hearing Board as a Stipulated Order and established a protocol that the Department and Sunoco must follow in responding to spills. The protocol is designed to prevent repeat spills and requires Sunoco to stop drilling until the Department inspects the site of a spill and ensures more spills won’t happen there.
The Department has not been applying the protocol in all instances, resulting in Sunoco continuing to spill drilling fluid at the same sites. Monday’s motion requests that the Board clarify the spill protocol to ensure the protections the parties agreed to are followed moving forward.
“It is unfortunate that once again it is the responsibility of non-profit organizations to ensure that the Department appropriately responds to Sunoco’s ongoing spills,” said Maya K. van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
The Board’s Order is part of an ongoing appeal of 20 deficient water permits the Department issued for the Mariner East 2 pipelines in February. That Order was entered after the Board had halted all horizontal directional drilling for the Mariner East 2 pipelines due to the damage Sunoco’s drilling practices was causing to drinking water supplies and the environment.
DRN continues to monitor a few areas along the construction route where continued issues and violations are occurring along the ME2 route. A real time water testing probe was installed by DRN and Stroud in December to document water quality conditions. Landowners along the route continue to document harms and violations and DRN has photo documented and provided reports to the Conservation District for follow up and enforcement.