A decision by the Public Utility Commission, expected next summer or early fall, will provide the best chance for stopping the Dragonpipe (Mariner East pipeline system). That’s when the “Safety 7” case will be decided. But to make the strongest case before the PUC, we’ll need additional financial support from you. Please read on to learn why it is so important, what the money is needed for, and how to make your donation.
Why is Safety 7 so important? The Safety 7 PUC case was brought in late 2018 to challenge the safety and siting of the Mariner East hazardous volatile liquids (HVLs) pipelines (the Dragonpipe) in Chester and Delaware Counties. Most of the HVLs are destined to be shipped overseas to be turned into single-use plastics.
Sunoco has been given carte blanche by Pennsylvania elected officials, regulators, and the courts to pollute our aquifers, destroy our families’ drinking supplies, and place valve stations and pipes next to dozens of schools, nursing and senior facilities.
The Dragonpipe is dangerous. In the event of a leak or rupture, people within a mile or more are at risk of suffering burns or dying, well before first responders are even aware of an accident. Sunoco has known this for years, but tries to conceal it. Sunoco’s own internal hazard assessments reflect these dangers, but the company has kept them from the public.
Over the past year, there has been growing public momentum to stop the construction of Mariner East. At the same time, however, Sunoco has been working feverishly in hopes of completing it before public opinion turns so negative, and the regulatory enforcement so rigorous, that completion becomes impossible. The Safety 7 case will be a critical step in that process.
Why do we believe the Safety 7 case will succeed? Sunoco’s public awareness program is fatally flawed. Federal law requires that the operator of an HVL pipeline (1) make the public aware of the dangers of a major pipeline leak, and (2) make the public aware of how to evacuate safely from such an incident.
Sunoco has failed on both counts. First, the company has not told the public how dangerous these pipelines are, and the Safety 7 case will provide evidence that some of the 1930s-vintage pipes involved are very likely in bad condition. There is compelling evidence that they are suffering from corrosion that will result in leaks and ruptures.
Second, Sunoco’s current emergency advice (“walk upwind and uphill, on foot, for half a mile”) is unworkable. In reality, the very nature of such a catastrophe makes it impossible to evacuate quickly enough to avoid serious injury and death. This has now been documented by two of the Safety 7’s experts in their reports.
Sunoco’s position is weak and growing weaker. There are many indications that Sunoco is having trouble dealing with public-safety issues. Here are just a few:
- Within the last few weeks, Sunoco was fined $30 millionby the Department of Environmental Protection for environmental damage caused by the company’s slipshod construction practices on a different pipeline in Beaver County which led to a huge explosion. Despite hundreds of environmental violations, however, the DEP has allowed Sunoco to resume construction.
- An explosion within a Sunoco flare tower in West Goshen Township put the population on edge and proved how unworkable Sunoco’s so-called emergency plans are.
- In addition to the sinkholes that Sunoco triggered in the Exton area of Chester County, there have now been multiple sinkholes in Delaware County. Each sinkhole has risked damage to operating pipelines.
- The FBI has joined local District Attorneys and the state Attorney General in investigating Sunoco’s questionable dealings with regulatory agencies.
Meanwhile, the Safety 7 case has been moving through the PUC’s agonizingly slow hearing process. In October, 2019, the PUC took testimony from local residents and complainants in the Safety 7 trial. In November, the “pro se” complainants (those not represented by lawyers) gave their testimony. The last set of hearings will involve testimony by experts. That won’t take place until July, 2020, but between now and then we must raise enough money to pay for our expert witnesses. That’s where you come in.
Please help. Our legal team is donating their services, but we have to obtain expert witnesses and pay court fees. The total cost of these is around $125,000. So far, we’ve raised about half of that. We’ll need your help to raise the other half.
Will you join us in helping to make the Safety 7 case a success? If you feel as strongly as I do about the need to defend the homes, schools, parks, and businesses along the pipeline route, then I urge you to make a contribution.
People’s lives will continue to be at risk until we can find a way to stop both the construction of these pipelines and the flow of explosive material through our dense suburbs. The success of the Safety 7 case is our best opportunity to stop that flow.
And although the Safety 7 case is about public safety, stopping the Mariner East project is not just about those risks to the public. The Mariner East system is also an important part of the infrastructure that makes fracking in the Marcellus shale viable, along with all the health problems that it is creating. And, because most of what flows through the system is precursor materials for single-use plastic, it is also an important contributor to plastic pollution. So stopping Mariner East is important on several different fronts.
We are depending on YOU to come through with a donation—no matter what size—that will enable us to put on a case that will show once and for all that there is no real emergency plan for Mariner East. If Sunoco can’t provide a detailed plan that shows how the public would be protected in an emergency, the PUC will have no alternative but to put a stop to the construction and operation of Mariner East.
Here is how to contribute. You can contribute via GoFundMe at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-the-Safety-7-Halt-Mariner-East
Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety is running the campaign. The money is being handled by the Clean Air Council, which is acting as fiscal agent for this effort. They will make sure it is used specifically for the expenses in the Safety 7 case. You can find all the details at the GoFundMe site.
It is also possible to send a check (see below).
But however you do it, please contribute now! This is the single best thing you can do to stop this project.
How to contribute by check. It’s easiest for you and for us if you contribute using GoFundMe, but if you would rather mail a check, make it out to “Clean Air Council” and send it to:
Clean Air Council
Attention: Eve Miari
135 S. 19th Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19103
If you write a check, you must make sure the memo field specifies that it is for the “Safety 7 legal fund” and mention the Mariner East pipeline in your cover note. Otherwise, it might end up in the Council’s general fund.