MDN previously reported that last Sunday a new sinkhole appeared exposing a tiny section of the Mariner East 1 (ME1) NGL pipeline in Chester County, PA, prompting Sunoco Logistics Partners to close down ME1 in the Greater Philadelphia area (see New Mariner East 1 Sinkhole Appears, PA PUC Shuts Down Pipeline).
Following discussions with state Public Utility Commission (PUC) investigators, Sunoco Logistics Partners closed down the remainder of ME1 on Monday. The pipeline, at the prompting (demand?) of the PUC, is completely shut down, flowing no ethane or propane from southwest PA to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philly. Which is a shame. All because a few feet of bare pipe in showing. The pipe is not even leaking! Yet a small section of exposed pipe on one side of the state is enough for the PUC to bring the hammer down on the pipeline across the entire state.
Last time the PUC shut down ME1, it was shut down for two months (see PA PUC Shuts Down Mariner 1 Pipeline Due to Mariner 2 Sinkhole). Who knows how long it will be shut down this time?
Meanwhile, the corrupt Chester County District Attorney is running a sham criminal investigation into Sunoco Logistics and both the ME1 and ME2 pipelines (see Chester County DA: Using Off-Duty Police as ME2 Security a Crime).
The PUC issued the following update yesterday confirming the entire pipeline is out of commission for the foreseeable future:
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (PUC’s) independent Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement (I&E) – which includes the PUC’s Pipeline Safety Division – continues its active and ongoing safety investigation regarding the Mariner East 1 (ME1) pipeline, operated by Sunoco Pipeline LP, a/k/a Energy Transfer Partners (SPLP).
Following discussions with the PUC’s I&E, the remainder of ME1 has been “shut down” by SPLP (since Jan. 21), meaning no product is flowing in this pipeline anywhere in Pennsylvania. SPLP is not permitted to resume the transportation of product through ME1 until approval is received from I&E.
Additionally, I&E pipeline safety engineers continue to monitor all work at the Lisa Drive site and remain in constant contact with SPLP regarding their activities involving ME1. I&E’s pipeline safety engineers are trained and certificated by the Federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The PUC also continues to use the ARM Group Inc., a leading consulting firm specializing in geotechnical engineering and geophysics, to monitor geological testing of the Lisa Drive site and analyze the results for PUC investigators.
I&E has also confirmed that the following additional safety measures have occurred:
- Temporary stabilization work around a “sinkhole” that developed this past weekend (Jan. 20) along Lisa Drive, in West Whiteland Township, Chester County – using flowable fill material and sand to secure an exposed section of the ME1 pipeline – was completed by SPLP on Wednesday, Jan. 23;
- In order to fully isolate the Lisa Drive location for testing, SPLP is purging a 44-mile section of the pipeline, from Beckersville, Berks County, to Marcus Hook, Delaware County; work to purge the final 3.8-mile segment of that line, from Twin Oaks, in Delaware County, to Marcus Hook, is expected to be completed this evening.
- Per agreement between I&E and SPLP, this section of line will remain purged during the duration of the I&E investigation into this incident; and,
- Discussions are underway regarding the geophysical testing that SPLP is required to conduct in the area around the Lisa Drive incident.
All testing will be shared with I&E’s pipeline safety engineers and I&E’s geophysical consultants for independent analysis and review. Following analysis of these testing results, I&E will determine whether a plan for remediation of the Lisa Drive site, along with any other work that I&E believes is necessary, can be developed.
As the independent investigation and enforcement bureau of the PUC, I&E has the authority to bring enforcement action, seek emergency orders from the Commission or take other steps to ensure public safety, should circumstances change or based on the finding of the investigation.*
*Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (Jan 24, 2019) – PUC Update on Investigation Involving Mariner East 1 Pipeline
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