Senator Dinniman (D-19) at rally against Mariner East pipeline

Over 200 people attended the Rally for Community Safety – Mariner East, hosted by Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety and Food & Water Watch – Pennsylvania, on Saturday, June 9 at the Historic Chester County Courthouse steps.

Speakers received vocal support from the crowd. The citizens have never gotten answers, said Senator Dinniman, who in April filed a formal legal complaint against the the Public Utility Commission over its inadequate attention to safety and siting. The Mariner East case is as important as the Valdez oil spill in Alaska or the Love Canal in New York state, Dinniman said, and Pennsylvania government should be standing up for the PA constitution and private property rights. As he and other speakers emphasized:

Article I, Section 27

The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.

photo thanks to Dianne Herrin

Sinkhole opens up due to pipeline construction

[This article from the WCU student newspaper shows, through local residents’ reactions, some of the types of personal impact from the rushed and rule-breaking Sunoco pipeline construction just north and east of the Borough: yards are destroyed, homeowners could need to evacuate, real estate values may fall… and all that without the feared catastrophic gas release or explosion.]

Kelly Witman, Special to the Quad, December 4, 2017

West Whiteland resident Thomas Allen suffered the consequences of a sinkhole that opened up in his backyard on Nov. 11 during a drilling for Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline.

The incident, referred to as an “inadvertent return,” was caused by Sunoco’s horizontal directional drilling (HDD) that released about 1,500 gallons of drilling mud—a mixture of bentonite clay and water—on Allen’s property, forming an eight-by-eight-foot sinkhole.

“This isn’t just a spill or inadvertent return, I might have to move out of my house,” said Allen. “My house may be condemned.”

Allen explained that after the incident, Sunoco’s cleanup crew came for one day to contain the spill but did not perform a complete cleanup. Sunoco fenced in the backyard and placed a piece of wood over the hole. “There’s still mud all over my yard. My backyard is unusable and I can’t even get to my shed,” said Allen.

Allen expressed dissatisfaction with the way Sunoco and the Department of Environmental Protection have been handling the situation.

“I haven’t heard from the DEP at all,” said Allen. “All I’ve got from the DEP was a Notice of Violation saying Sunoco knew about this since August and has been lying about it.”…

read more at the Quad

Has Sunoco no shame?

Sunoco seems determined to make life around here untenable. And if the PA Department of environmental Protection lets it proceed, shame on DEP! The following is an email from activist Bernie Greenberg, under the title “Comments Needed – Sunoco Open Trench in Exton”:

This is a critical issue that needs our attention and action. Sunoco, who is building the Mariner East 2 pipeline, plans to do open trenching instead of horizontal directional drilling due to restrictions in a recent ruling. This liquefied natural gas pipeline with run through densely populated areas in Exton, Chester County, PA next to the Exton Shopping Mall, the main branch of the Chester County Library, through wetlands, streams and forest land, as well as park land and ball fields. Please state your concerns by commenting to the PA DEP by November 20 by email at ra-eppipelines@pa.gov or Virginia Cain’s direct email at DEP: vicain@pa.gov. Thank you very much and spread the word!

Here’s the comment I submitted. Suggest you comment in your own words.

It is appalling to me that the DEP would even consider Sunoco’s request to be permitted to route the Mariner East 2 pipelines directly through Exton by open trenching. The agreement reached this past August with the Environmental Hearing Board proposed that Sunoco modify their HDD method to prevent further damage to local water sources or relocate the pipeline. Instead Sunoco wants to use trenching through the most congested part of central downtown Exton close to the busy library and two major shopping centers. This would create not only massive congestion problems but unnecessary risks to thousands of people in the area if the pipeline should rupture.

Sunoco’s rationale for this route is totally unacceptable since it will result in the most disturbance and risks to the residents and customers in this area. They have not provided any valid rationale for not relocating the pipeline to a nearby less congested route which would result in far less damage to our environment and expose far fewer residents to the risks from pipeline leaks or ruptures.

For these reasons I urge you to disapprove Sunoco’s request to trench through central Exton.

– Bernie Greenberg, Sierra Club, Southeastern PA Group, Pipeline Cmte Chair

Read about this sinkhole that recently formed in a backyard in Exton.

See also: “Sunoco files its new plan: trenching through the heart of Exton,” Dragonpipe Diary, 11/9/17


Sunoco workers respond to an inadvertent return during pipeline work in a Lisa Drive backyard in West Whiteland Township. SUBMITTED PHOTO from Daily Local News, 11/13/17

Rep. Comitta (D-156) proposes Pipeline Communication and Safety Board

See her video announcement “Comitta Fighting To Keep Pipelines Safe” at YouTube. Text there:

Published on Jun 19, 2017

The creation of a Pipeline Communication and Safety Board is needed, as our state government struggles to keep residents up to date on pipeline construction, operation and maintenance. The Pipeline Communication and Safety Board will ensure timely and effective dissemination of relevant information to help all citizens, and make our government agencies more efficient.

Mayor Comitta’s testimony on gas pipeline crossing

From West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta:

This evening [August 14] the PA Department of Environmental Protection held hearings at WCU’s Sykes Theater on the Williams Transco Company’s proposal to replace natural gas pipelines which cross the Brandywine. State Senators Dinniman and Rafferty were instrumental in organizing this public hearing.

Attached please find a copy of my testimony at the hearing this evening. The DEP must decide whether to issue permits to Transo to replace the pipeline utilizing a cheaper method that most environmentalists find to be more environmentally damaging than a second safer, but more more costly method. This is an issue that affects the Borough’s drinking water, and has environmental implications for our region.

For more details on the methods, please contact Senator Dinniman’s office.

Hopefully the DEP will decide to do what is in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the people they serve.

Prepared text:

August 14, 2012

To: Department of Environmental Protection
RE: Transco Pipeline replacement over the Brandywine River

As a Mayor of the Borough of West Chester, I speak on behalf of our citizens. The issue at hand is of concern to us for two reasons. First, because West Chester’s drinking water comes from the Ingram’s Mill Water Treatment Plant along the East Branch of the Brandywine River, and we want to ensure our people have access to healthy water. Second, because we care about doing the right thing to protect our environment and the environment of our neighbors in the region and beyond. We understand the concept that “we all live downstream”.

At a town meeting in 2006, a diverse group of people of the Borough of West Chester unanimously voted environmental issues as the number one concern for the future of our community. The articulation of this priority has driven Borough policy for the last 6 years. West Chester’s Borough Council has passed ordinances requiring developers to build green. Borough Council passed an ordinance to purchase 100% of its electricity through wind power. The implementation of this police costs money. I can assure you that the government of West Chester is frugal. But I can also assure you that we have our priorities straight! We are not willing to compromise the health of our citizens to save a buck.

I respect the right of a business to promote a plan that protects their bottom line.
If required to use a more expensive method, I’m sure they will pass on any extra costs to their customers. I can tell you the people of West Chester would pay the premium for the environmentally healthy option. I suspect we are not unlike most people who want to choose the best for their children and grandchildren.

It is the responsibility of elected officials and governmental agencies to uphold their pledge to protect the health safety and welfare of the people they serve. Our “bottom line” must be to require businesses to use methods that protect the people.

The Department of Environmental Protection’s mission (taken from the DEP website) is to protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment. We will work as partners with individuals, organizations, governments and businesses to prevent pollution and restore our natural resources.

I urge the DEP to require this applicant and any applicant for that matter, to choose a method that best protects the health and safety of our citizens – that protects the Brandywine River and the drinking water supplied to our town and region. The Department of Environmental Protection exists to do just that – protect the environment – thereby protecting the people you serve.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this critical community environmental issue.