Until now, Sunoco/ETP has only managed to either cause an “inadvertent release” of drilling fluid (a frac-out) or to hit an aquifer and wipe out some private wells. But this weekend, it accomplished both at once, with a single drill.
The frac-out (at a Mariner East 2 pipeline work site in Middletown Township, south of Tunbridge Apartments in the vicinity of Martin’s Lane and Glen Riddle Road) was reported on July 17. It’s not clear at this point how much drilling fluid was involved.
As of this morning (July 18), crews are struggling to contain large quantities of water, perhaps mixed with drilling fluid. A Facebook user has posted a video of the activity on the Facebook page of the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety. There are reports that the drill hit two springs, and that at least one private well was affected.
Posts on Facebook indicate that residents noticed the water problems as early as Saturday, July 15, but Sunoco/ETP apparently took several days to deal with the problems and report them to local authorities and the DEP.
Once again, the combination of insufficient field research, and a drilling technique with unpredictable results has proved a disaster.
When I started this blog, I was focused on the loss of life that could occur if the Dragonpipe were to be allowed to operate as planned. That’s still the most urgent priority, but it has become painfully clear that all kinds of environmental damage will be inflicted on our area before we ever get to the point where we have to worry about the risk of explosion.