Middletown Council joins those with questions for Sunoco

It's no longer just some residents who are raising their voices against Sunoco's Mariner East 2 pipeline.

Last night Middletown Council joined the chorus, pushed in part by last week's incident in which a contracting crew for Aqua Pa. actually struck the pipeline while doing main work. The problem is that they hit the pipeline at 6 feet, when Sunoco had told them it was buried at 9 feet.

Middletown Council President Mark Kirchgasser did not leave much to the imagination in reading a statement urging a wider investigation by the state Public Utility Commission. They want construction halted until they get some answers.

"It is evident to council from the events of recent weeks that ETP (Sunoco or parent company Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners) appears to be more interested in the expedient installation of ME2 than in protecting Middletown's residents and maintaining trust," Kirchgasser said. "The citizens of Middletown Township have a right to expect excellence in all aspects of the installation and maintenance of the ME2 pipelines."

A PUC administrative law judge already has shut down work on Mariner East 2 in West Whiteland as well as the entire Mariner East 1 pipeline after a request from state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19 of West Whiteland.

The full PUC was expected to rule on the matter this week.

The work crew scraped the pipeline, but no serious damage was reported.

Both Sunoco and the PUC are investigating the incident. Sunoco confirmed that the pipeline is supposed to be buried 9 feet deep. The incident occurred just a few hundred yards from the Glenwood Elementary School, further supporting residents' arguments that the pipeline, which will eventually carry hundreds of thousands of barrels of volatile gases such as ethane, butane and propane each day, never should have been routed through densely populated neighborhoods.

One thing is becoming increasingly clear.

Sunoco can no longer bury the concerns of residents.

It's on today's editorial page.