It’s the time of year to look back and see what the notable events were in the year just past. For Dragonpipe Diary, that’s not hard to do, since the blogging software (I use wordpress.com) keeps track of views. I’m afraid the top 10 makes pretty grim reading.
While most year-in-review lists feature Covid-19, mine doesn’t. Covid played a relatively small role in the saga of the Dragonpipe (Mariner East pipeline system). The most obvious effect was that various regulatory and legal hearings were held on Zoom.
No, most of the top stories dealt with malfeasance by Sunoco, not the virus. And there was plenty to write about, given Sunoco’s wild-west attitudes toward laws, regulations, and the environment. Here, in reverse order, are the most viewed posts of 2020. Each title is a link to the corresponding blog post.
#10: Sunoco thumbs its nose at Media Borough (12/8/2020) Sunoco asked Media for an expanded easement for the pipeline. Media said no. Sunoco went ahead with construction illegally.
#9: “I’ve been approached by Sunoco about my easement agreement. What should I do?” (2/10/2020) As Sunoco has changed its plans, it has required easements in addition to those it obtained before anyone knew what was happening. Now, people know, and they want to protect their rights.
#8: Fifteen apartment residents sue Sunoco (4/5/2020) Residents of the Tunbridge Apartments went through months of constant hell as Sunoco tried, and failed, to drill under their complex. So they sued.
#7: Sunoco covered up a dangerous situation in East Goshen (and perhaps, across the state) (10/15/2020) Sunoco silenced a whistleblower who insisted on telling them about a troubling subsidence.
#6: Emergency Services Director: First responders will NOT be able to deal with a Mariner East leak; it is impossible to keep the public safe (2/11/2020) Delaware County’s Emergency Services Director went on the record confirming that, in the event of a serious Mariner East release, there would be nothing that his department could do to prevent massive loss of life.
#5: Pipeline inspector falsified Mariner East welding records (3/19/2020) A pipeline inspector intentionally falsified over 70 records of welds by substituting documents from good welds in place of documents from bad ones.
#4: Raystown Lake: a case study in Sunoco’s blatant and willful disregard of environmental regulations (1/19/2020) Sunoco released thousands of gallons of drilling fluid into a popular recreational lake, coating many acres of lake bottom and killing off aquatic life.
#3: Sunoco, although turned down by Media Borough, is preparing to build on Media’s land anyway. Will the Borough allow that? (9/27/2020) With evidence that Sunoco was starting construction of a pipeline on Media’s land where they had no right to do so, Media Borough had the opportunity to take legal action. (As it turns out, so far they have stood by and let it happen, too worried about the cost of a legal challenge.)
#2: News alert: In separate drilling incidents, Sunoco pollutes Marsh Creek Lake and hits an aquifer at Shoen Road (8/11/2020) At two different drill sites, Sunoco caused major environmental problems. Both sites are still shut down, and Sunoco has been ordered to reroute the pipeline at one of them (it is fighting that order).
#1: Lessons from a near-catastrophe in Exton (2/20/2020) Trenching next to the library in Exton caused a small nearby natural gas pipeline to be breached. Although this could have been a catastrophe, the workers fled the scene without notifying anyone. It was left to a local resident to report the emergency.
All in all, these stories from 2020 paint a picture of a company out of control, uninterested in safety, the environment, the law, or local residents and bent solely on completing its pipeline as quickly as possible.
Is it too much to hope that Sunoco gets taught a few lessons in 2021?