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Sunoco Pipeline Agrees to $12.6 Million Penalty, State's Hold on Permits Lifted

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced Feb. 8 that it has issued a $12.6 million civil penalty to Sunoco Pipeline, LLP for permit violations related to the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline project, that both parties have entered into a Consent Order and Agreement specifying the penalty, and that the department has lifted its order suspending DEP-permitted operations.

The company says the Mariner East projects are designed to provide needed pipeline infrastructure to transport ethane, propane, and other petroleum products from the Marcellus Shale to markets in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

"Throughout the life of this project, DEP has consistently held this operator to the highest standard possible. A permit suspension is one of the most significant penalties DEP can levy. 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. Today's announcement is by no means the end of DEP's oversight," DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said. "Since the permit suspension over a month ago, Sunoco has demonstrated that it has taken steps to ensure the company will conduct the remaining pipeline construction activities in accordance with the law and permit conditions and will be allowed to resume. DEP will be monitoring activities closely to ensure that Sunoco is meeting the terms of this agreement and its permits."

The $12.6 million penalty, said by DEP to be one of the largest civil penalties collected in a single settlement, will go to the Clean Water Fund and the Dams and Encroachments Fund.

The agency had issued an administrative order to Sunoco suspending construction activities related to DEP-permitted operations on Jan. 3, 2018. The order contained detailed facts and findings related to the violations and 21 specified performance obligations. Sunoco's response since then included an extensive revised Operations Plan setting forth additional measures and controls it will put in place to ensure all permit conditions will be followed at all times moving forward, as well as additional measures and controls it will implement to minimize inadvertent returns and water supply incidents, according to DEP.

DEP reviewed all of the company's submitted materials and has conducted extensive additional inspection activities since the suspension was issued, and now it has approved the submissions as meeting all of the requirements to submit information in the Jan. 3 order.

"DEP will continue to monitor and enforce the conditions of the permits and will take necessary enforcement actions for any future violations," said McDonnell. "If a resident should witness pollution from the pipeline affecting streams or other waterways, then please alert DEP at 1-800-541-2050."

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