Sunoco has just turned in its report in response to the DEP request for more information about the HDD drilling for the Dragonpipe (Mariner East 2 pipeline) along Rte 352 between the Andover subdivision at Route 926 and the Sts. Simon & Jude School at Route 3. You have until January 7 to file a “public comment.”
I suggest you tell the DEP that Sunoco’s report is inadequate (instructions below). Here’s why. The DEP asked for more information “regarding potential water supply impacts, groundwater flowback, and inadvertent returns.” There is some additional text in the new report, but little new information, on each of these topics.
Groundwater flowback. This is what happened at the Tunbridge drill site in Delaware County and the Shoen Road drill site in Chester County. In those locations, Sunoco drilled into a hill, and the water table they encountered was higher than the drill site, so the water came flowing back to the drill, draining local aquifers and spoiling wells.
This may well happen at the Andover drill site, since there is a big hill between there and Sts. Simon & Jude. Sunoco’s report concedes that “these elevation differences could cause…groundwater discharge at the entry/exit points…potentially lowering of the water table in the area of the high point….” But the report doesn’t tell how this will be prevented.
Water supply impacts. If flowback occurs, there is likely to be a water supply impact (wells may go dry). Sunoco has identified 41 wells within 450 feet of the drill route, but it has obtained limited data on water depth parameters for only 11 of them.
Sunoco didn’t try to collect well depth data itself, but depended on a state agency (the Pennsylvania Groundwater Information System, PaGWIS) which has spotty data, some of it very old. Some is incomplete. On its own website, PaGWIS admits to a backlog of data on hundreds of thousands of wells that have yet to be entered into its system. Sunoco should have collected this data itself. And the five boreholes it drilled to check on the geology of the area provided little data on the water-table issues. There is simply not enough information to know where an aquifer might get hit.
Sunoco plans to conduct this HDD without any real idea about the water problems it may cause.
Inadvertent returns. “Inadvertent returns” are the frac-outs—drilling mud surfacing where it shouldn’t—that have plagued Sunoco’s drilling efforts in our area. Sunoco’s report claims that “IRs during the pilot phase have occurred at some nearby HDD’s and not at others.”
That’s stretching the truth. The Slitting Mill site, which is adjacent to the south, has had multiple frac-outs. The Boot Road/Chester Road site and the Giant supermarket site, both of which are nearby to the north, have also had frac-outs. And the only change in drilling procedure mentioned in the report is a very minor one (if it is a change at all). It seems likely that there will be frac-outs on this stretch of the route.
Send in your comments! As with previous Sunoco reports, you need to send comments to the DEP, and copy the governor, the Clean Air Council, and your state representative. The deadline is January 7 (Sunday). Tell them that you are commenting on Sunoco’s response to the DEP’s request for additional information about the work at the “Arch Bishop/South Chester Road Crossing” site. Tell them Sunoco should be required to do a thorough investigation of the potential ground-water and well problems in the area where it proposes to drill, and that the continuing frac-outs are unacceptable in a suburban area.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- To Governor Wolf, who has the power to stop this pipeline if he wants to. You can use this contact form: https://www.governor.pa.gov/contact/
- 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: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/index.cfm
This is important!