February 25, 2018

Sunoco fined $12.6 million; pipeline work to resume

10 February 2018, 02:58 | Winifred Adams

Pipeline work likely to resume after Sunoco fined $12.6 million by Pennsylvania authorities


DEP temporarily halted construction on a section of the pipeline in Berks while it investigated the incident.

"Our action to suspend the permits associated with this project, and the collection of this penalty, are indicative of the strict oversight that DEP has consistently exercised over this project".

"Sunoco has demonstrated that it has taken steps to ensure the company will conduct the remaining pipeline activities in accordance with the law and permit conditions, and will be allowed to resume", Pennsylvania's Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a statement.

Feridun rejected McDonnell's statement that DEP had held Sunoco to the "highest standard possible" during its application for permits and subsequent construction.

"DEP will be monitoring activities closely to ensure that Sunoco is meeting the terms of this agreement and its permits", Shader said.

DEP and Sunoco entered into a Consent Order and Agreement (COA) memorializing the penalty.

The permit violations included Sunoco having conducted "unauthorized pipeline installation activities" at the Dauphin County Horizontal Directional Drilling site in Lower Swatara Township between November 8 and November 20. The penalty is one of the largest civil penalties collected in a single settlement.

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The $12.6 million fine is one of the largest civil penalties Pennsylvania has ever imposed, saying the money will be deposited into funds for clean water and dams and encroachments. Pursuant to the COA, Sunoco will withdraw its appeal of the January 3, 2018 Order, which had been filed on Friday February 2, 2018.

He said the agreement relies on Sunoco's promises to do better, but those have not proved fruitful in the year that Mariner East 2, now scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2018, has been under construction.

Mariner East 2 is just one of ETP's projects, which include the Dakota Access crude line from North Dakota to IL and the Rover natural gas pipe from Pennsylvania to MI, that has come under intense regulatory scrutiny for environmental and other reasons over the past year.

"DEP and Sunoco just cut this deal and nothing went before Judge Labuskes so we have no clue as to if this actually means Sunoco is going to change their way of business and start behaving", he said. "Governor Wolf's message to the thousands of schoolchildren living within the blast zone of the Mariner East 2 is simple: Your safety is less important than Sunoco's profits".

"I am not satisfied that DEP and Sunoco's agreement will be robust enough to prevent the same types of egregious environmental harm from occurring during future construction", he said.

Shields said Sunoco officials look forward to getting back to work.

Energy companies use horizontal drilling to cross under obstacles like roads and rivers.

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