Thursday, June 14, 2018

PUC Lifts Shutdown Order On Mariner East 1 Pipeline; Mariner East 2, 2x Pipeline Construction Remains Shut Down In Chester County

The Public Utility Commission Thursday, on a motion by Chairman Gladys Brown, voted 3 to 2 to lift the shutdown order on Sunoco’s Mariner East 1 Pipeline, but continued the shutdown of construction of the Mariner East 2 and 2x Pipelines in West Whiteland Township, Chester County.
The action was taken in response to a petition submitted to the PUC by Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) on April 27 asking for the pipelines to be shut down and construction stopped.
Brown’s motion said the record developed by PUC Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Barnes that lead to issuing an Order to Sunoco on May 24 did not contain any new information to support the shutdown of Mariner East 1 Pipeline and since the PUC lifted its previous shutdown order on May 7.
However, related to continued construction of the Mariner East 2 and 2x Pipelines, Brown noted Barnes' May 24 Order remains in effect and information required to be submitted to the PUC must be submitted, including those related to inspection and testing, comprehensive emergency response planning, emergency training program for employees and conformation Sunoco continues to have a permit from DEP related to construction.
The Commission will review the information and make a determination at an upcoming public meeting on whether Sunoco may resume construction on ME2 and ME2X.
In a joint statement, Commissioners John F. Coleman Jr. and Norman J. Kennard underscored their support for the decision to resume operations on ME1, but dissented on the continued suspension of construction on ME2 and ME2X, stressing the PUC’s active and ongoing pipeline safety work related to the Mariner project.
“To date, the Commission’s pipeline safety experts have not reported any safety issues that warrant halting construction of ME2 and ME2X.  However, as our experience with ME1 shows, we have full confidence that our Pipeline Safety Division will take necessary steps to protect the public if a safety issue arises with the project.”
Brown noted the issues raised by Sen. Dinniman remain under consideration by the PUC and adjudication of that case will continue.
Sen. Dinniman released this statement on the PUC action--“I don’t understand why the PUC would affirm some of the public safety issues at stake involving the construction of Mariner East 2 and 2X, but completely ignore others involving Mariner East 1.
“After all, that’s the one that potentially presents the most immediate danger to my constituents.
“I’ll be thoroughly reviewing the final order with my staff and attorney as we explore any and all options moving forward.
“The bottom line is our position has not changed. We continue to have very real and significant concerns regarding the stability of Mariner East 1 – an 87-year-old pipeline carrying highly volatile natural gas liquids within close proximity of schools, playgrounds, senior care facilities, neighborhoods, a library, shopping mall, and rail line, to name just a few.”
The case falls under PUC Docket Numbers: C-2018-3001451 and P-2018-3001453.
Additional information on DEP enforcement actions can be found on DEP’s Mariner East 2 Pipeline webpage.
Pending Bills
On June 12, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee approved and reported out Senate Resolution 373 (Rafferty-R-Montgomery) that would establish a legislative Commission to Study Pipeline Construction and Operations.  It is now on the Senate Calendar for action.
The Committee had on the agenda, but did not consider Senate Bill 1027 (Rafferty-R- Montgomery) that would set additional notification requirements for residents impacted by pipeline construction (sponsor summary).
Three bills sponsored by Sen. Dinniman related to pipeline safety issues have been on the Senate Calendar waiting for action since April 24.
On Wednesday, Senate Bill 835 (Dinniman-D-Chester) requiring the registration of land agents working for pipeline companies (sponsor summary) was Tabled due to lack of action under Senate Rule 9.
Still on the Senate Calendar are-- Senate Bill 930 (Dinniman-D- Chester) sets notification requirements related to pipeline emergencies (sponsor summary); and Senate Bill 931 (Dinniman-D- Chester) requires the installation of automatic or remote controlled safety values in natural gas pipelines in densely populated areas.
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