The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has resolved a complaint, which prevents Sunoco Pipeline LP from constructing a controversial valve station in a Chester County township for the Mariner East (ME) 2 project.
The complaint was filed last year by West Goshen Township over the proposed construction of the valve station outside a defined area there. It also alleged that the company failed to install one of two remote-control valves in a move it claimed jeopardized the community’s safety. The township asked the commission to prevent the valve station and remove any other above-ground equipment not authorized by an agreement it had with the company.
PUC voted unanimously to approve the motion by Commissioner David Sweet, adopting a recommended decision from Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Elizabeth Barnes. The company was prevented from building the valve station after the ALJ found last year that it had breached a 2015 settlement. The controversy contributed to a series of unrelated regulatory delays that have hindered ME 2.
Under the adopted decision, Sunoco may not build or locate a valve in West Goshen unless it is in a designated-use area or it has permission from the township. Sunoco is now required to submit engineering documents and plans to West Goshen for safety reviews, including plans to eliminate the existing valve in the township and automate a valve 2.5 miles outside of it.
Sunoco management said at the time of the ALJ’s decision that it was evaluating whether to relocate or eliminate the valve equipment. Work stoppages and the valve controversy forced the company to delay the project last year, but ongoing problems during construction have continued to impact the pipeline’s in-service.
A partial construction suspension remains in effect in the county after sinkholes were discovered earlier this year near the right-of-way in West Whiteland Township.
ME 2 is nearly complete and is expected to enter service before the end of the year. It would run parallel to ME 2X, also under construction, for 350 miles to move ethane, butane and propane from processing facilities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex near Philadelphia. ME 1 entered full service in 2016 to move 70,000 b/d of ethane and propane from western Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook.