Thursday, February 8, 2018

Sunoco Mariner East II Pipeline Fined $12.6 Million, DEP Allows Construction To Resume

The Department of Environmental Protection Thursday announced it has issued a $12.6 million civil penalty to Sunoco Pipeline, LLP for permit violations related to the construction of the Mariner East II Pipeline Project.
DEP and Sunoco have entered into a Consent Order and Agreement (COA) memorializing the penalty.
As a result of the strict Consent Order and Agreement, which includes a historic civil penalty and a stringent compliance review, DEP has lifted the order suspending DEP-permitted operations.  
“Throughout the life of this project, DEP has consistently held this operator to the highest standard possible. A permit suspension is one of the most significant penalties DEP can levy. Our action to suspend the permits associated with this project, and the collection of this penalty, are indicative of the strict oversight that DEP has consistently exercised over this project. Today’s announcement is by no means the end of DEP’s oversight,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Since the permit suspension over a month ago, Sunoco has demonstrated that it has taken steps to ensure the company will conduct the remaining pipeline construction activities in accordance with the law and permit conditions, and will be allowed to resume. DEP will be monitoring activities closely to ensure that Sunoco is meeting the terms of this agreement and its permits.”
DEP issued an administrative order to Sunoco suspending construction activities related to DEP-permitted operations on January 3, 2018. The order contained detailed facts and findings related to the violations, and 21 specified performance obligations.
In response to the January 3 Order, Sunoco submitted an Initial Response on January 12, 2018, as well as two supplemental responses on January 22 and 29, 2018 in response to DEP requests for additional information and clarification.
Sunoco also submitted numerous exhibits with additional information required by the Order. These included an extensive revised Operations Plan setting forth additional measures and controls Sunoco will put in place to ensure that all permit conditions will be followed at all times moving forward, as well as additional measures and controls that Sunoco will implement to minimize inadvertent returns and water supply incidents.
After reviewing all submitted materials, and conducting extensive additional inspection activities since the suspension was issued, DEP has approved the submissions as meeting all of the requirements to submit information in the January 3, 2018 Order.
In addition, the civil penalty resolves the violations that were noted in the January 3, 2018 Order and violations identified through Sunoco’s response to the Order. Pursuant to the COA, Sunoco will withdraw its appeal of the January 3, 2018 order, which had been filed on February 2, 2018.
The $12.6 million penalty will go to the Clean Water Fund and the Dams and Encroachments Fund. The penalty is one of the largest civil penalties collected in a single settlement.
“DEP will continue to monitor and enforce the conditions of the permits, and will take necessary enforcement actions for any future violations,” said McDonnell. “If a resident should witness pollution from the pipeline affecting streams or other waterways, then please alert DEP at 1-800-541-2050.”
For more information on this pipeline, visit the DEP’s Mariner East II Pipeline webpage.
Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director of the Clean Air Council, said in reaction to the announcement, “I am not satisfied that DEP and Sunoco’s agreement will be robust enough to prevent the same types of egregious environmental harm from occurring during future construction.
“I am dismayed by DEP giving this large multinational corporation what amounts to a slap on the wrist for the destruction it has caused to priceless natural resources and harm to nearby residents. DEP should have verified that landowners’ concerns would be fully addressed by the agreement. 
"The Council and grassroots organizations affected by the pipeline will do everything in their power to ensure DEP will hold Sunoco accountable to the law going forward.”

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