On January 17, Chester County Council approved the filing of a “petition for injunctive relief” to prevent the use of open-trench construction for a segment of the Dragonpipe (Mariner East pipeline system) adjacent to the Chester County public library in Exton.
This the latest step in a conflict over whether Sunoco can use open-trench construction (instead of the underground HDD method originally proposed) to install the pipeline next to the library. In its original proposal, Sunoco was to have used HDD; and in February 2017, Sunoco obtained from the County a “secondary easement” allowing it to use HDD installation through the area. That document also discussed the possible use of open-trench construction, but that was only allowed “should conditions beyond [Sunoco’s] reasonable control necessitate it.”
Then, in the fall of 2017, Sunoco decided to change plans from HDD to open-trench construction. (See “Sunoco files its new plan: trenching through the heart of Exton”.) Additionally, the new plan would require turning the library lawn into a construction zone, with the removal of many of the mature trees. (See “Sunoco’s destructive plans for the Chester County Library lawn”.)
Chester County responds. In April and May of 2019, Chester County filed a lawsuit “to enjoin Sunoco from construction of a pipeline on the County properties” near the library. That lawsuit is still in the courts. At a minimum, the County argues, Sunoco must prove that conditions have changed, forcing it to use open-trench construction.
In defiance of this active, unresolved lawsuit, Sunoco notified the County on January 10, 2020, that it would begin open-trench construction on January 24. (Accordingly, the cutting of the library’s trees could presumably start as soon as January 24.) That is what triggered the current injunction request. The County wants to prevent construction from starting until the courts have ruled on whether Sunoco has the right to use open-trench construction at the library location.
If the judge issues an injunction, as requested, the County will be in a position to use its law enforcement capabilities to stop any construction activity in its tracks.
It remains to be seen whether the injunction will be granted, and if so, whether Sunoco will attempt construction anyway. All of that will become clear over the next two weeks.