The DEP asked Sunoco a series of questions about its new “open trench” plan for its route for the Dragonpipe (Mariner East 2 pipeline) under Rte. 100 in Chester County. Sunoco responded on December 20. In its response, Sunoco basically avoided answering the DEP’s questions. Now, there is a five-day public comment period (ending Christmas Day!) during which you have a chance to tell the DEP what you think.

Once you see how Sunoco has responded (below) I think you will agree with me that Sunoco’s response is totally unacceptable. If so, the DEP needs to hear from you! Directions for responding are at the end of this post.

The DEP asked Sunoco for a response to five questions. Here is a summary of the questions, and Sunoco’s responses. (Their complete response is here.)

Question 1: What alternative routes have you considered? “Particularly, what alternatives (including alternative routing) have been considered to avoid or minimize impacts to residential, commercial, institutional areas, woodlands, and surface waters….”

Answer: “Rerouting away from the existing … easement would result in new impacts by creating a new greenfield utility corridor…. [Sunoco] does not recommend the transfer of a utility encumbrance from a pre-existing location, where the presence of pipeline utilities is well known to past and current landowners, to a new set of previously unencumbered lands and landowners.”

Translation: It would be too much trouble to try to secure new easements for a different route.

Question 2: ”Provide additional information on studies conducted and/or measures taken to specifically address concerns with  potential impacts to public and private water supplies….”

Answer: Information about this was provided in our plan modification request submitted in October.

Translation: We won’t provide any additional information. Just accept what you already have.

Question 3: “Provide additional information on what measures will be undertaken to avoid adverse impacts to water resources, including streams and wetlands….”

Answer: Same as Question 2.

Translation: Same as Question 2.

Question 4: “Provide additional information on how open trenching and conventional boring can be undertaken without causing or exacerbating sinkholes and associated impacts….”

Answer: Same as Question 2.

Translation: Same as Question 2.

Question 5: Why does the new plan conclude that open trenching is appropriate while relying on the exact same geotechnical information that the old plan (which called for horizontal directional drilling instead of trenching) was based on?

Answer: The original plan did not include data about the Aqua municipal wells in the area. After reviewing that information, Sunoco decided that “no redesign of the HDD profile could mitigate the increased probability of effects to these water supply wells.”

Translation: Originally, we did not bother to look into the possible effects on water-supply aquifers. We now realize that trenching is the only way we have a shot at avoiding damage to the aquifers.

I consider these responses from Sunoco to be completely unacceptable. They did not take seriously the request to consider an alternative route (Question 1). If they had, they would probably also have been able to avoid the Aqua wells (Question 5). And they simply refused to provide answers to Questions 2, 3, and 4.

I fully expect to see similar stonewalling in the response Sunoco gives to the DEP’s questions about trenching by the Chester County library (that response has not yet been submitted).

You have just a few days (until December 25) to submit comments to the DEP about Sunoco’s response. Let the DEP know that this behavior is unacceptable and that the DEP should not allow Sunoco to proceed until they provide proper answers to these five questions.

Email your comments to the DEP at this address:

To have greatest effect, it is important to send copies of your DEP comments to several other places as well:

  • To the Clean Air Council, who needs your comments as ammunition in its fight against the pipeline. Send copies to Kathryn Urbanowicz (
  • To Governor Wolf, who has the power to stop this pipeline if he wants to. You can use this contact form:
  • To your state senator and representatives (who can hold public hearings to show the public how dangerous this pipeline is). Don’t know who they are or how to contact them? Get that information from this site:

This is important!