Wednesday, July 19, 2017

More problems with Mariner East 2 construction

The biggest economic project in the region is making headlines again - but probably not the kind its proponents want to see.

There were two more incidents involving the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Middletown this week - one on Monday and another related to it Tuesday.

First, about 1,500 gallons of bentonite, a non-toxic, clay-like muddy substance used in the drilling process, leaked into a tributary of Chester Creek.

Then on Tuesday, runoff from groundwater at the site overflowed a retention pond, flowing onto hay bales set up in the area. A video of the runoff was widely circulated on social media.

It's not the first time a bentonite spill has become an issue. Back in May a similar leak occurred in Brookhaven.

And of course the project has been halted in Chester County after problems popped up with several residents' wells.

Now a group of community activists and even a state representative is asking for construction to be halted here in Delaware County.

Look, drilling for pipeline construction is not a pretty business. Anybody who has seen what is going on along Route 452 here in Delaware County, or out on Boot Road in Chester County, can attest to that.

But is there any danger in these spills?

Sunoco insists that's not the case, stressing that bentonite is commonly used during drilling operations, and that it is non-toxic. Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields said the company has had no reports of any impact on private wells or the public water supply here in Delaware County.

That has not stopped state Rep. Chris Quinn, R-168, of Edgmont, who represents the area where the spill occurred, to call for a halt to pipeline construction.

Quinn said he wants to be sure all the proper safeguards are in place to protect the environment and local residents. "What is occurring here is unacceptable," Quinn said in a statement.

That follows word from state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19, that he was sending a letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection asking that all horizontal directional drilling be halted in Chester County after the problems with residents' private wells popped up.

Middletown Coalition for Community Safety, one of the groups who have been most vocal in their opposition to the pipeline, is seeking a moratorium on pipeline construction.

They also want their Middletown Township Council to get involved, asking them to back the moratorium call and set up a meeting between residents and Sunoco.

Council meets Monday night.

Should be interesting.

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