The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has again fined Energy Transfer Partners LP subsidiary Sunoco Pipeline LP $148,000 for violations of the Clean Streams Law and the Dam Safety and Encroachment Act that occurred during construction of the Mariner East (ME) 2 pipeline.
The project has faced repeated delays and fines due to regulatory issues and legal challenges, including a historic $12.6 million fine earlier this year to resolve dozens of violations and spills during construction. DEP said Monday that the latest incidents occured in Berks, Chester and Lebanon counties in the southeast part of the state.
In each county, the agency said Sunoco impacted the private water supplies of several residents, causing “cloudy, turbid, discolored and/or lost water in their wells.” The agency also said Sunoco failed to immediately notify DEP of the impacts to private water supplies in Chester County.
“Sunoco’s actions violated the law and will not be tolerated,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said. “Sunoco cannot impact water supplies. If it does, Sunoco must address those impacts to the satisfaction of the water supply’s owner, including replacement or restoration of the impacted water supply.”
ETP spokesperson Lisa Dillinger said the fine was the result of months of negotiations with the agency involving prior water issues. The impacts to homeowners have since been remedied. There has been no long-term impact to water anywhere, she added. Dillinger said the “unintentional violations” resulted from underground drilling construction methods that have since been adjusted and approved by the DEP.
“It is always our intent to fully comply with the terms and conditions of all our permits when constructing and operating our pipelines,” she said. “In addition, we are going beyond requirements by notifying landowners with wells in proximity to” underground drilling “to proactively provide water supply options as a precaution.”
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission last week partially lifted a suspension of ME 2 and 2X construction. The commission authorized Sunoco to resume construction at eight locations in Chester County’s West Whiteland Township. But an injunction remains at four other locations until the company receives environmental permits from the DEP.
Construction at the locations has been halted since May, when an administrative law judge ordered it stopped. The move came in response to a complaint from state Sen. Andrew Dinniman, which was filed after sinkholes were discovered in a residential area in West Whiteland.
ME 2, which is nearly complete, and 2X would run parallel along the same 350-mile route to move ethane, butane and propane from processing facilities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to the Marcus Industrial Complex near Philadelphia.