Our lead story yesterday was the rumor there has been another sinkhole open up in Delaware County, PA near an existing (old) pipeline temporarily being used as part of the Mariner East 2 (ME2) NGL pipeline system (see PUC Investigates ME2 Bypass Pipe in Delaware Co. for New Sinkhole). Indeed there was. Officials report a 12 foot by 12 foot sinkhole in the right-of-way for several Sunoco-owned pipelines. The good news is that no bare pipe was exposed, the hole has already been filled, and ethane/propane continue to flow through ME2.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s Pipeline Safety Division of the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement is investigating what may have caused the sinkhole.
Delaware County foes of the Mariner East pipeline now have something in common with their Chester County counterparts — sinkholes.
A subsidence (collapse, cave-in) or “sinkhole” was discovered along the route of the Mariner East 2 pipeline along Baltimore Pike near the Troop K State Police barracks, according to county and township officials.
The 12-foot-by-12 foot swimming-pool sized gash occurred at about 3:30 p.m. in the right of way for the Sunoco/Energy Transfer Mariner East pipeline. No injuries were reported and no pipelines leaked.
According to Mark Kirchgasser, chairman of the Middletown Township Council, neither of two pipes now operating was exposed. An 8-inch pipe is carrying petroleum and a 12-inch pipeline is still shipping highly volatile fuels.
Kirchgasser also said the hole was quickly filled in with flowable fill, to stabilize the sinkhole, along with topsoil by 9 a.m. Thursday. In much of Chester County, where there are 23 miles of ME pipeline, Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners drills and digs through karst or limestone. The impacted area in Delaware County is composed of extremely solid granite.
“It is purely speculation that old pipe in ground collected water over the course of time and created the erosion,” Kirchgasser said. He also said that the Public Utility Commission will likely issue a report in 7-10 days with a likely determination of cause.
“The PUC will use geophysical imagery to determine the extent of the sinkhole, if there was impact on pipe and to determine a cause,” he said.
Representatives of the township, Delco Emergency Management, DEP and PUC nearly immediately met at the site.
A safety investigation has been launched by the Pipeline Safety Division of the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement. The division is performing an investigation independent from the PUC.
Sunoco spokesperson, Amanda Gorgueiro responded Thursday morning:
“A subsidence feature did occur yesterday along our right of way in this area. The appropriate regulatory agencies were notified and an investigation determined our pipelines in the area are safe and secure. Nothing was exposed. The area was immediately contained and grouted. We have placed personnel in the area to continue to monitor the area. Our pipelines remain in service.”*
Several Philadelphia-area elected Democrats and RINOs jumped on news of this latest sinkhole, using it as an opportunity to bash ME2 (and giving them material for their next fundraising letters). We won’t bother to bring you their comments. It’s just more of the same.
*West Chester (PA) Daily Local News (Apr 26, 2019) – Huge sinkhole forms along Mariner East pipeline route
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