Thursday, May 24, 2018

PUC Judge Issues Emergency Order To Shut Down Mariner East 1, 2, 2x Pipelines

Public Utility Commission Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Barnes Thursday issued an Order to Sunoco to shutdown the operation of the Mariner East 1 Pipeline and construction of the Mariner East 2 and 2x Pipelines in response to a petition filed April 27 by Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester).
The judge’s order is subject to the review of the full Public Utility Commission.  Its next meeting is June 14.
“I find there to be an imminent risk to the public and a need for immediate relief and further study to be done on ME1, ME2 and ME2X for the Commission and its Bureau of Safety Engineers to evaluate before construction should resume on ME 2 or ME2X in West Whiteland Twp. [Chester County] and before a potential catastrophic event occurs on ME 1,” said Judge Barnes in the Order.  “Additionally, local and state government needs time to create emergency evacuation and notification plans and to educate the public before operations should resume.”
“The rupture of a hazardous liquid pipeline at the welds of an 8-inch pipe in an HCA such as West Whiteland and the ignition of such a potential vapor cloud could have catastrophic results,” said Judge Barnes.  “It would be injurious to the public to not slow down this project for further safety and pipeline integrity tests and the development of as much a public integrity management plan as possible within the confines of Act 156 of 2006 - The Public Utility Confidential Security Information Disclosure Protection Act.
She added, “A stay of operations would also provide needed time to develop and train Sunoco personnel, emergency responders, and State Agencies such as the Commission’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement, Pipeline Safety Section, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Safety, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and other relevant agencies.”     
“Any financial harm to Sunoco, a foreign for-profit corporation, or its shipper(s) is outweighed by the by the potential harm the public may sustain without Commission intervention at this critical juncture and prior to the completion and start of ME2 and 2X.  
“Sunoco has made deliberate managerial decisions to proceed in what appears to be a rushed manner in an apparent prioritization of profit over the best engineering practices available in our time that might best ensure public safety.”
The Order calls for Sunoco to, among other things--
-- Fully assess the condition, adequacy, efficiency, safety and reasonableness of the integrity of welds and welding processes used;
-- Fully assess the condition, adequacy, efficiency, safety and reasonableness of  distances from residences, schools, hospitals, malls and other large gathering places;
-- Report its emergency response plan, practices and procedures, including whether its personnel will assist in evacuations;
-- Submit a plan to train personnel on the identification of leaks and related emergency procedures;
-- Determine whether it is willing to provide emergency responders with devices to detect leaks and other related equipment;
-- Conduct geophysical and geotechnical studies related to Mariner East 2 and 2x and submit them to the PUC and the parties within 30 days;
-- Report to the PUC within 30 days showing its internal procedures for finding and reporting violations of state and federal regulations; and
-- Establish a public integrity management program, risk analysis and other information required to warn and protect the public from dangers.
Click Here for a copy of the Order.

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