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Pennsylvania DEP Again Fines Sunoco For Mariner East Violations

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined a Sunoco Logistics Partners LP subsidiary $59,000 as part of a settlement agreement with the company related to violations of the state's Dam Safety and Encroachments Act.

The violations, DEP said, affected wetlands and streams in five Southern Pennsylvania counties during repair work to the Mariner East 1 pipeline. The agency said that inspections conducted between March 2014 and June 2015 found that Sunoco Pipeline LP impacted separate wetlands in Berks, Blair, Cumberland, Huntingdon and Perry counties, including the installation of a valve station in a floodway in Blair County and violations at two small streams in Huntingdon County.

Mariner East 1, a former oil pipeline, has been converted to deliver Appalachian natural gas liquids (NGL) from Western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex on the Delaware River south of Philadelphia. Propane deliveries have already started on the line and ethane deliveries are expected to begin by the end of this quarter. If Mariner East 2 and an expansion project for a third pipeline are constructed, all three lines would have a capacity of 770,000 b/d (see Shale Daily, Sept. 14).

The DEP said Sunoco did not obtain the necessary permits prior to conducting the repair work and noted that construction, operation and maintenance of a water obstruction or encroachment -- such as a pipeline -- without a permit is a violation of the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act.

Sunoco has since obtained permit authorization to work in the areas where the violations occurred, in addition to all other stream, floodway and wetland crossings that are part of the Mariner East 1 project.

The agreement comes after another in June in which Sunoco Logistics paid $95,000 for several spills of bentonite, or drilling mud, in the southwest part of the state that occurred last year during construction of an extension of Mariner East 1 between Delmont, PA, and Houston, PA, to pick-up NGLs from MarkWest Energy Partners LP's Houston Processing and Fractionation facility (see Shale Daily, June 26). 

The company said in a statement that it accepted the penalty for its latest violations and noted that a contractor started the work while the permitting process was underway. The company said it worked to have the project supervisor removed from the job and said such violations should never occur.

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