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 or Virginia Cain’s direct email at DEP: 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