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PA Dept. of Environmental Protection Orders Sunoco to Reroute Pipeline
Drone photo showing drilling fluid spilling into Marsh Creek (P.K. Ditty)

PA Dept. of Environmental Protection Orders Sunoco to Reroute Pipeline

On September 11th, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) ordered Sunoco Pipeline, L.P. (Sunoco) to reroute its planned pipeline route, and further assess, investigate, and restore resources impacted by Mariner East II pipeline installation activities in Upper Uwchlan Township, Chester County. The horizontal directional drilling (HDD) site which caused the impacts includes the installation of two pipes, a 16-inch and 20-inch line, and is referred to as HDD 290.

In August 2020, Sunoco spilled over 8,000 gallons of drilling fluid, an industrial waste, and created a 15-foot wide by 8-foot deep subsidence, adversely impacting wetlands, two tributaries to Marsh Creek Lake, and the lake itself, in Marsh Creek State. The drilling fluid spill caused the park to close off 33 acres of the lake from boating and other recreational uses and access.

“These incidents are yet another instance where Sunoco has blatantly disregarded the citizens and resources of Chester County with careless actions while installing the Mariner East II Pipeline. We will not stand for more of the same. An alternate route must be used. The department is holding Sunoco responsible for its unlawful actions and demanding a proper cleanup,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “To the fullest extent possible under our laws and regulations, we will continue to hold this company accountable for their actions, impacts, and behavior.”

The administrative order issued today re-affirms DEP’s regulatory oversight. DEP officials have maintained a consistent presence at this site since the spill on August 10, 2020 to oversee all clean up and restoration activities and issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to Sunoco on August 20, 2020. In the NOV, DEP requested, among other things, that Sunoco provide plans to address the impacts of the drilling fluid spill and subsidence events; to date, DEP has not yet received all requested information, including these plans.

A pipeline reroute in the Marsh Creek area was previously evaluated by Sunoco and found to be technically feasible. The order requires that this technically feasible route be used rather than the current pathway, which has resulted in multiple drilling fluid spills and subsidence in a wetland area. In addition to the required re-routing of the 20-in pipeline away from Marsh Creek Lake, additional corrective actions including impact assessments and restoration and remediation requirements are further outlined in the order.

A copy of the order and supplemental material on this project can be found on DEP’s Pipeline Portal at www.dep.pa.gov/pipelines.

Read Patch article with more information: “DEP Orders Sunoco: Divert Pipeline From Marsh Creek State Park

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