Andy Dinniman is not done with Mariner East.
Not by a long shot.
The day after the state Public Utility Commission ordered Mariner East 1 shut down in the wake of several sinkholes that popped up in the yards of homes out in West Whiteland, exposing the old pipeline and creating what some described as the potential for a 'catastrophic' incident, the state senator continues to beat the drum against the massive pipeline project.
Dinniman, D-19 of West Whiteland, now is again asking that the $2.5 billion Mariner East 2 project be shut down.
To review, Mariner East 1 is the old Sunoco oil pipeline, installed back in the 1930's, that originally shuttled oil products from Marcus Hook across the state. Sunoco Pipeline reversed the flow and reformatted the pipeline to carry volatile gases such as ethane, butane and propane from the Marcellus Shale regions to the former refinery at Marcus Hook, where it will be stored, then shipped to customers, most of them overseas.
Mariner East 1 was carrying about 70,000 barrels of gases a day.
Mariner East 2 will up the ante considerable. It's a much bigger pipe, capable of delivering as much as 250,000 barrels a day.
It is believed that drilling and digging for the Mariner East 2 line, which is running pretty much parallel to Mariner East 1, may have disturbed the ground, leading to sinkholes and exposing the old pipeline.
Compounding the problem is something called karst. It's a geologic formation that is common in this area. It involves ground that sits on old limestone formations that has been weakened over years, making it susceptible to sinkholes and fissures.
It's bad enough that people are dealing with these kinds of problems literally in their back yards. But last weekend's sinkholes also were very close to Amtrak's rail line.
Dinniman visited the site of the sinkholes Thursday. He's worried - and angry.
“As more sinkholes develop, we need to not only make doubly sure about safety of this pipeline and whether the construction of Mariner East 2 is having on the integrity of Mariner East 1,” Dinniman said. “You can’t move forward with the construction of Mariner East 2 unless you understand the geology of this area.
“It seems like Sunoco doesn’t want the public to see or to know what is going on here and just how badly its ongoing failures have potentially jeopardized the health, safety, and well-being of this community,” Dinniman said. “Well, they can’t hide it anymore.”
For their part, Sunoco Pipeline said they will abide by the PUC order, and do the testing the agency ordered on the Mariner East 1 line.
Jeff Shields, Sunoco Pipeline communications manager, said Thursday that the pipeline builder was working with the Public Utilities Commission by taking “proactive measures to reaffirm for regulators the safety of the Mariner East 1 pipeline.”
Those measures include:
• Running an inline inspection tool in the area of Lisa Drive in West Whiteland to reconfirm the integrity of the pipeline;
• Suspending operation of the Mariner East 1 pipeline after those tests to allow for a 10 to 14-day “study period” involving completion of integrity and geophysical investigations in the area;
• Sharing all findings with the Pennsylvania PUC and taking any corrective actions, if necessary.
“This period should allow us to share what our professional geologist has established to date – that the Mariner East 1 pipeline is stable, is located in suitably safe geology, and will continue to operate safely as it has done for decades,” Shields said. “The safe operation of our pipelines is of critical importance to us, and we believe the study period will reaffirm the safety of the pipeline.
You can get all the details here.
Sunoco Pipeline has indicated it expects to see Mariner East 2 up and running by the end of June.
Not if Dinniman has anything to say about it.