Thursday, November 18, 2021

PUC Orders More Than A Dozen Actions To Improve Safety In Construction, Operation Of Mariner East Pipelines; Sunoco Must Pay $2,000 Penalty

On November 18, the Public Utility Commission directed Sunoco Pipeline L.P. to take certain reasonable actions to protect public safety regarding the construction and operation of the Mariner East Pipelines – including Mariner East 1, Mariner East 2 and Mariner East 2X – addressing complaints that had been filed against the pipeline operator. 

Click Here to read the 124-page order.

The Commission voted 3-0 to approve an initial decision issued by PUC Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth H. Barnes, in a case involving complaints against Sunoco Pipeline L.P. which were filed by nearly a dozen individuals and organizations from southeastern Pennsylvania.  

The Commission Order addresses the consolidated cases, which were the subject of extensive testimony, hearings and related litigation.

Public Safety Actions Required by Sunoco Pipeline

The PUC order requires Sunoco Pipeline to take a series of actions intended to enhance public safety in the construction and operation of the Mariner East pipelines, including:

-- Review Of Public Awareness Program: A comprehensive review of Sunoco’s public awareness program.

-- Written Emergency Notification Plans: A written plan to enhance Sunoco’s public awareness and emergency notification plans.

-- Safety Materials For Chester, Delaware Counties: Enhancements to public awareness safety materials for residents and emergency responders in Delaware and Chester Counties.

-- Emergency Lists Chester, Delaware Counties: Supplements to Sunoco’s emergency contact list for Delaware and Chester Counties, including police departments of municipalities and designees of school districts.

-- Notification Of Excavation: Advance notification by Sunoco prior to proposed excavation on the pipeline system in all municipalities of Delaware and Chester Counties.

-- Public Awareness Meetings: Scheduling by Sunoco of public awareness/education meetings to be held in the West Chester Area School District, Twin Valley School District, Downingtown Area School District, and Rose Tree Media School District.

-- Meetings With Local Officials: Arrangements by Sunoco for meetings with the Chester County Commissioners, Delaware County Commissioners, and all municipalities’ supervisors therein, to establish emergency contact list information; assist with the establishment of emergency plans for first responders; inform and educate officials and staff on proper and effective disaster prevention and disaster response; assist in the development of an evacuation plan for use by municipalities; create a public outreach and public education program; and address other related issues included in the PUC’s Final Order.

-- Follow-Up Meetings With Local Officials: Establishment of times and dates for follow-up meetings and periodic meeting schedules as mutually agreeable between municipalities, counties and Sunoco Pipeline.

-- Training On Emergency Notifications: Additional training by Sunoco regarding emergency notification procedures, as reasonably requested by municipalities and school districts.

-- Depth Of Cover Survey: A “depth of cover” and “distance between other underground pipelines/structures” survey regarding Mariner East 1 and the 12-inch workaround pipelines as long as they are purposed for carrying highly volatile liquids.

-- Pipeline Depths To Avoid Cultivation: Sunoco shall file a report with the Commission certifying whether Mariner East 1 and the 12-inch workaround pipelines that are transporting highly volatile liquids within Chester and Delaware Counties are buried so that they are below the level of cultivation and so the cover between top of pipe and ground level, road bed, river bottom or underwater natural bottom is in compliance with minimum regulatory requirements and the distance between pipeline exteriors and the exteriors of other underground pipelines/utility structures are at least twelve inches apart unless adequate corrosive control action can be shown – along with a corrective action plan for area areas requiring remediation – to be filed annually for three years.

-- Sharing Test /Inspection Reports With Local Officials: Sharing the results of any geophysical test reports, inspection and evaluation reports assessing the condition of its pipelines located in East Goshen Township or Middletown Township to Township Supervisors or their designee engineering consultants at least on an annual basis and more frequently while construction is ongoing, pursuant to any non-disclosure agreements Sunoco Pipeline, L.P. deems necessary to protect its confidential security information.

-- Share Information On Pipeline Contents, Other Details: Subject to a nondisclosure agreement, share with Chester County’s Department of Emergency Services maps of all transmission lines listing material moved, pipeline diameter, mainline valve locations and maximum operating pressures (MOP), and maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) and information about the location of any anomalies that merit pressure reduction in the pipeline and the presence of “immediate,” “60-day” or “180-day” repair conditions for liquid pipelines or "immediate" or "one- year" repair conditions for gas pipelines.

-- Pay Civil Penalty: A $2,000 civil penalty, payable to “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” to be paid within 30 days of the date of entry for the Final Order in this case.

Click Here to read the 124-page order.

PUC Docket Numbers: C-2018-3006116;  P-2018-3006117; C-2018-3005025; C-2019-3006905; C-2018-3003605

Pipeline Safety Rulemaking

Several other issues raised in the complaints were referred to the PUC’s ongoing rulemaking related to the pipeline transport of petroleum products and hazardous liquids in intrastate commerce, which is exploring proposed amendments to existing state pipeline safety regulations along with the possible addition of new regulations.

Click Here for more information.  This has not yet been published in the PA Bulletin for comment.

Related Articles - Mariner East Pipeline:

-- AG Shapiro Charges Mariner East Pipeline With 48 Counts Of Environmental Crimes In 11 Counties

-- Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Told A Federal Court Sunoco Cannot Hide Risk Assessment Data For Its Mariner East 2 Pipeline

-- PUC Judge’s Opinion Orders Sunoco To Improve Public Safety, Emergency Outreach Measures, Rebury Pipelines Related To Mariner East Pipeline Project, Full PUC Approval Needed

-- Natural Gas, Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Are NOT Required To Carry Insurance Or Show They Can Pay For Damages If They Explode, Leak Or Kill Someone

Related Article - PUC:

-- PUC Imposes $1 Million Penalty On Energy Transfer Company For 2018 Revolution Pipeline Explosion In Beaver County

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-- Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, FracTracker Alliance Call On Citizens To Report Road Dumping Of Oil & Gas Drilling Wastewater 

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[Posted: November 18, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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