At the Board of Supervisors meeting on July 24, 2019, West Whiteland Residents for Pipeline Safety and Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety asked the Board of Supervisors to file a petition for emergency relief with the PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) seeking a pause in operation and construction of Energy Transfer’s Mariner East pipelines until three issues are adequately addressed.
One of the three issues is related to current operations – whether an exposed pipe in Valley Creek that is labeled as grouted, and therefore inoperable, is really the 8” Mariner East 1 line carrying natural gas liquids. The PA Department of Environmental Protection has issued a permit to Energy Transfer to remove the capped and grouted pipeline and to bury a pipe next to it that carries petroleum between Montello and Icedale (and is not part of Mariner East). That work will be completed in September.
The other two issues are construction-related:
- whether Energy Transfer’s proposal to use a direct pipe method to install a pipe under the Route 30 bypass and the Paoli-Thorndale railroad line is safe; and
- whether the installation of the two pipelines within inches of each other, which has occurred for much of the construction that has been completed this year, is safe.
Filing an emergency petition and complaint with the PUC is equivalent to filing a lawsuit. Before the Board of Supervisors can decide whether to file, they need to know there is substantial evidence supporting any claims that would be made in the petition. To that end, the Board hired a pipeline consultant to evaluate the two construction-related issues. That report concluded that the proposed construction methods are safe, as long as appropriate maintenance and testing occurs as planned. To find out more about ET’s ongoing and planned maintenance, particular regarding corrosion prevention, the Board is looking into obtaining an additional assessment.
At the Board of Supervisors meeting on September 12, 2019, residents expressed their concerns about Energy Transfer’s history of maintaining the Mariner East pipelines in operation and asked the Board to find out if steps have been taken to address the violations noted by the PUC associated with the Mariner East leak in Morgantown, PA to prevent a similar incident in West Whiteland. Township staff will seek this information from regulators and consultants.