Sunoco fires back; ad focuses on pipeline safety

Even in my normal pre-dawn, coma-like state, it got my attention.

It looks like Sunoco is ready to fight back.

This morning I saw what appeared to be the first TV ad aired by the company, defending its pipeline operations.

It was a Sunoco employee, talking calmly about something that is rarely talked about in a calm manner in many Delaware County communities. He was talking about the company's pipelines, and his job in making sure they operate safely. The worker indicates it's something the company has been doing safely "for 85 years."

Unless you've been under a rock, you know that community unrest continues to grow in opposition to the company's plans, specifically Mariner East 2, which will run a pipeline 350 miles, nearly the entire width of Pennsylvania, to brings hundreds of thousands of barrels of butane, ethane and propane from the state's Marcellus Shale region to Marcus Hook. From there it will be stored and then shipped to customers, both domestic and foreign.

It has the potential to be an economic blockbuster, even possibly making Marcus Hook, which just last Saturday celebrated its 125th anniversary - including its long hallmark as a refinery center - as the energy hub for the entire Northeast U.S. Much of that refinery business is now gone. The pipeline has the potential to replace it. As you might expect, it has the support of many in government, labor unions and the Chamber of Commerce.

But if it runs through your back yard, or within a few hundred feet of your kids' elementary school, you might not be that crazy about it. Slowly but surely, community opposition to the pipeline plan is growing.

Many of the easements needed to construct it, however, have already been granted. Community groups are now going to their local school boards and municipal governments are now going to their leaders asking serious questions about those deals.

For their part, Sunoco Logistics maintains that residents' concerns are overblown, that the pipeline, which will carry these gases at high pressure across more than 11 miles of western Delaware County, are being constructed to the highest safety standards, and that maintenance is and safe operations of the pipeline is a top company concern.

Residents are not that sure.

There is even talk that some parents are considering asking Rose Tree Media School Board if they have considered moving kids out of Glenwood Elementary, off Pennell Road (Route 452) in Middletown. The Mariner East 2 pipeline will run a stone's throw from the school. Residents are starting to talk about worse-case scenarios and what might happen in the event of a spill or explosion. It's not a pretty picture. Company officials insist those dangers are being overstated. They are not, however, issuing any guarantees.

A group of Delaware County residents called the Middletown Six went to court last week to challenge the easements given to Sunoco to construct the pipeline, which is already well under way in both Delaware and Chester counties.

They are hinting a lawsuit could be in the works to stop construction.

Now Sunoco is hitting the airwaves with an employee talking about his job, and how safety is his top concern.

He's not the only one.


Carrie said…
Uchwlan Safety Coalition in Chester County is hosting a public meeting tomorrow evening to address these same concerns: