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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

DEP Announces Accountability Actions for Mariner East 2 Violations

Environmental Hearing Board Issues Temporary Partial Halt to Drilling Consent Order and Agreement Orders Sunoco Pipeline L.P. to Take Corrective Actions in Chester County

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced it will enforce a Consent Order and Agreement (COA) with Sunoco Pipeline L.P. (Sunoco) for violations associated with its Mariner East 2 project in West Whiteland and Uwchlan townships, Chester County.

In a related matter, the Environmental Hearing Board halted horizontal directional drilling (HDD) activities, effective immediately, until a supersedeas hearing, scheduled for August 7.

“The corrective actions outlined in the COA are steps DEP is taking to hold Sunoco accountable and protect local residents,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “DEP is conducting its own independent investigation of this pollution event and reserves the right to assess further enforcement, as appropriate.”

The COA also requires Sunoco to keep drilling activities on hold until DEP is confident Sunoco has met the requirements of the consent order in this area and requires they identify all homeowners with private water supplies within 150 feet of the impacted area and provide a list to DEP.

As a result of Sunoco’s HDD activities near Shoen Road in West Whiteland Township, 14 homeowners experienced adverse impacts to their private water supplies, which are drawn from groundwater.

Pennsylvania law does not regulate private drinking water wells or require private well owners to register their wells. The COA also provides for Sunoco’s response to any additional homeowners whose wells are adversely impacted by the Shoen Road Drill Area.

“DEP continues to be diligent in our oversight of this project,” said McDonnell. “To impact a person’s private drinking water is inexcusable, and we intend to hold this operator accountable to the fullest extent.”

In addition to the required identification of area wells, Sunoco must adhere to 7 other Corrective Actions as outlined in the COA, including:

• Must have written authorization to resume HDD in the impacted area from DEP, which will not be granted until the department is confident Sunoco is meeting the ordered corrective actions;
• Notification to the townships and private well owners within 150 feet of the drilling area at least 24 hours prior to resuming any HDD activities;
• Must submit a Water Supply Restoration Plan within 10 days that provides for an alternate source of potable water, which must be approved by DEP;
• Must conduct a hydrogeological investigation of the identified aquifer(s) to determine what caused the impacts to the private wells.

The permits associated with Mariner East 2 included special conditions related to private drinking water wells that go beyond existing state law requirements. The permits are among the most stringent DEP has ever issued for this type of construction activity related to protection of private drinking water wells.

A detailed list of incidents related to construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline is available on DEP’s website and will be updated weekly: http://www.dep.pa.gov/Business/ProgramIntegration/Pennsylvania-Pipeline-Portal/Pages/Mariner-East-II.aspx.

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