We spotted a story about landowners in the Philadelphia suburbs who currently have to live with construction of the Mariner East 2 pipelines (plural, there are two of them, ME2 and ME2X), literally happening in their back yards. While we are strong supporters of the ME2 project, we are not unsympathetic to landowners and the hassles they have to endure while it’s being built.
The story pretty below much speaks for itself. Following the story, we’ll give you our thoughts.
What is it like to live with pipeline construction in your back yard?
Chris and Kathy Ventresca reside in the Andover subdivision, at the intersection of Rt. 926 and Rt. 352. Sunoco/ET Mariner East pipeline work goes on less than 100 feet from their kitchen.
Chris Ventresca said he lived in Italy for 20 years where earthquakes are common.
“Sunoco turned our neighborhood into a construction site,” he said. “This is like being through an earthquake.”
For the past couple of days, while digging went on nearby, the Ventresca Family’s drinking glasses in the cabinets, and their furniture, rattled. Their 6-year-old son, who was home sick, thought the house was going to fall down.
Furniture shifts, the floor moves and ceiling fans flutter.
Chris Ventresca called 911, the township the Delaware County District Attorney, which has an open criminal investigation of Sunoco, and several media outlets.
Like about 10 of their neighbors, the family is spending $600 on an engineering assessment to determine whether their foundation is damaged by drilling and trucks on the nearby right-of-way.
“We want to make sure if damage is done that we can sue Sunoco and have them take care of it,” Chris Ventresca said.
Horizontal Directional Drilling will take place nearby, with underground pipeline construction stretching 7,000 feet to a spot near Ss. Simon and Jude Elementary School, at the intersection of Rt. 3 and Rt. 352.
Two pipelines will be installed and Sunoco/ET expects the work to last 200 days for each pipe. Open trenching will take place at Andover.
Kathy Ventresca works from home and is worried that pipeline construction might continue to disrupt her job. She said the current Sunoco digging is “very disruptive.”
The 350-mile pipeline, which stretches across the width of Pennsylvania, will carry highly volatile liquids, butane, methane and and propane. A hodge-podge of an existing 1930s pipe and two more recent pipes now carries HVLs.
A June 2017 grading permit has expired.
Thornbury Township “rushed the issuance of a deficient grading permit” to Sunoco in 2017 “without even considering the property owner,” said fellow Andover resident Eric Friedman. That permit has expired.
The Andover homeowner’s association owns the property.
Friedman said that the project is dangerous to Andover residents in many ways, including trench digging, which is shallower, a nearby above-ground safety valve is considered dangerous by Friedman and the entry point where the pipe is inserted into the ground is worrisome.
State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-155, state Rep. Kristine Howard, D-167, and state Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-156, met with residents during Wednesday’s pipeline town hall at Shamona Creek Elementary School.
The reps organized the town hall to help ensure that residents know how to protect their home and property during pipeline construction.
Comitta talked about temporary workspace easements expiring.
“Thank you to everyone that came out to share their experiences as residents directly impacted by the Mariner East pipeline,” Comitta said. “I encourage residents to build coalitions with their neighbors or citizen advocacy groups to ensure their concerns and rights are protected.
“We must continue to work as a coalition to ensure the safety and well-being of our neighbors, homes and community.”*
MDN’s thoughts: This is an impossible-to-reconcile situation. A much-needed pipeline needs to get built through a heavily populated, urban area. The pipeline IS needed, yet landowners have to put up with a lot of crap for a long period of time. The work will last 200 days for each pipeline? Why aren’t the pipes put in the ground at the same time? Will it really take over a year’s worth of work (200 days for each pipeline)? Putting up with glasses rattling, furniture moving, scaring the kids, traffic, noise, dust, etc. For over a year?? Yuck. We wouldn’t like it either.
And what’s with these landowners paying $600 each to have a baseline assessment done on their property? Sunoco should pay for that!
In fact, we’ve floated this concept before (heard it from a NY landowner): Why doesn’t the pipeline company pay landowners across whose property the pipeline runs, an annual fee (royalty, stipend, whatever you want to call it). Make it worth their while to have a major inconvenience like a pipeline cross their property. And yes, we can see how having a pipeline in your back yard may reduce the value of your home–make it harder to sell. Why shouldn’t the pipeline company be on the hook to somehow compensate for that too?
We understand our views on this won’t win us any friends in the industry, but we have to keep it real. If you’re going to inconvenience folks, make it worth their while to be inconvenienced. PAY THEM. That’s all we’re asking.
Click the link below to view a picture of the construction literally in these poor folks’ back yard.
*Exton (PA) Daily Local News (Apr 1, 2019) – Living with pipeline construction out back
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