I have been hearing that people with concerns about pipeline-related evacuation plans have been told that the plans are secret because of “national security”. That just isn’t true.

There could be a national security issue if would-be terrorists didn’t know what materials the Dragonpipe (Mariner East 2 pipeline) will carry, or if they didn’t know its route, or if they didn’t know where infrastructure such as pumping stations were being built. But all of that is public information, available on many websites.

And how would it help an enemy of the US to know what teachers were telling their students to do in the event of a pipeline emergency?

No, national security is not the reason you are not being told about evacuation plans. The reason is that there is no realistic possibility of evacuation in the event of a serious pipeline breach, but authorities are reluctant to admit it. When they turn to Sunoco/ETP for advice, the company tells them, “just say it’s a secret because of national security.” In fact, Sunoco/ETP routinely uses national security as an excuse for not answering requests of various kinds.

One pipeline opponent, Tom Casey of West Goshen, went so far as to contact the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) about this subject. He requested, and got, an email response from Jack Fox, head of Pipeline Security at TSA, which he recently shared at a public meeting and online. The email from Jack Fox read, in part:

“As I stated to you, I am head of the Pipeline Security program here at TSA. We at TSA are the lead federal agency for Pipeline Security. As stated during our call, I am not aware of any regulation in Homeland Security that would prohibit a company from sharing information pertaining to their pipeline to a property owner that requests the information. We recommend to companies that they share information with property owners in the interest of safety.”

So not even the precise details of a specific stretch of pipeline (much less the nature of evacuation plans) is considered a national security issue by the US government.

The next time someone tells you that evacuation plans are secret because of “national security”, tell them that they are wrong. They have been misled by Sunoco/ETP—or they are simply lying.