Pennsylvania DEP Cites Sunoco Pipeline LP for Hazardous Construction Violations
Pipeline company is facing $319,461 in penalties for two serious violations of permits on the Mariner East 2 pipeline project.
Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued two penalties to Sunoco Pipeline, LP totaling to $319,461 for construction violations on the Mariner East 2 pipeline project. The violations failed to follow the Clean Streams Law and Dam Safety and Encroachment Act that occurred in 2019 during construction activities in 10 countries.
“DEP is committed to ensuring that Sunoco and other companies are held to the highest standard possible. These actions, which resulted in violations of permits and laws that are meant to protect our waterways, are unacceptable,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.
The company’s activities resulted in unauthorized discharges of drilling fluids (consisting of bentonite clay and water), also known as inadvertent returns. The returns impacted the a number of surface waters: East Branch Conestoga River in Caernarvon Township in Berks County; two wetlands in Blair and Frankstown townships in Blair County; unnamed tributaries to Stewart Run, Hinckston Run, and two wetlands in Cambria County; a wetland in Middlesex Township in Cumberland County; Chester Creek and a wetland in Middletown Township in Delaware County; a wetland and Aughwick Creek in Shirley Township in Huntingdon County; Snitz Creek in West Cornwall Township in Lebanon County; a wetland in Toboyne Township in Perry County; an unnamed tributary to Peters Creek in Nottingham Township and an unnamed tributary to Little Chartiers Creek in North Strabane Township in Washington County; and an unnamed tributary to Sewickley Creek in Sewickley Township in Westmoreland County.
In response to these violations, DEP has assessed a civil penalty of $204,840, which Sunoco has agreed to pay. The DEP also issued a Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) to the company for violation of its permits and the Clean Streams Law that occurred in 2017 during construction activity. These violations resulted in accelerated erosion and sedimentation at the following sites: Lower Frankford, Upper Frankford, Lower Mifflin and North Middleton townships in Cumberland County.
More specifically, the erosion and sedimentation meant resulted because Sunoco:
- failed to implement effective best management practices to minimize erosion and sedimentation
- failed to temporarily stabilize all areas of the sites upon completion of earth disturbance activities at sites
- created potential for sediment pollution
- conducted earth disturbance activities at sites that violated its erosion and sediment control permit
- caused or allowed accelerated erosion that resulted sedimentation from earth disturbance activities to enter unnamed tributaries to some sites
As part of the agreement, DEP agreed on a penalty of $78,621 for these violations, which Sunoco has agreed to pay. Additional information, including the CACPs and supporting documents, can be found on DEP’s Mariner East 2 webpage.
State agencies have provided oversight over the Mariner East Project, issuing over 80 violations and levying more than $13 million in penalties. In response to the project and its unprecedented impact, DEP has also implemented significant new processes:
- Improved coordination with the PUC and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
- Improved internal coordination and implementation through the establishment of a Regional Pipeline Permitting Coordination Office
- And the development of new permit conditions and policy guidelines for future pipeline development projects including more than 100 special permit conditions
For more information on the topic, visit the DEP newsroom release.