As part of the “Findings of Fact” section of the complainants brief in the Safety 7 case, attorney Michael Bomstein put together a timeline to show how long Sunoco has been experiencing (and ignoring or misrepresenting) problems associated with the Dragonpipe (Mariner East pipeline system). I thought blog readers would find it interesting and a useful reference.

The text of the timeline is taken directly from the Safety 7 brief (p. 66-67). The only editing I have done is to remove the legal citations to the evidence in the case and to insert bracketed explanations where readers might not know the context. As Bomstein notes: “The timeline easily shows a picture of a company out of control.”

The timeline in this post relates to issues that are important in the Safety 7 case. For a general overview of Mariner East events up through mid-2019, see this page.

February 21, 2002 PHMSA Report dated 3/22/2002. Accident occurred at Darby Creek in Delaware County involving the twelve-inch Point Breeze to Montello pipeline. An in-line inspection in October, 2001 identified a feature which was not reported until January 2002. Leak [of a liquid “refined product”, perhaps gasoline] due to external corrosion occurred prior to scheduled date for investigation. Product leaked: 357 barrels (14,994 gallons).

April 10, 2015 PHMSA Report dated 5/6/2015. Accident occurred at Glen Mills, Delaware County. Leak into wetland from Point Breeze to Montello twelve-inch refined products pipeline. Lab analysis confirmed external corrosion brought on by coating failure that resulted in shielding [of the pipe from the protective anti-corrosion electric current].

April 1, 2017 PHMSA Report dated 4/26/2017. Accident occurred at Morgantown, Berks County. Leak [of ethane] on eight-inch line [I.e., ME1] due to external corrosion. MIC [Microbiologically Induced Corrosion, which the Safety 7 complaint emphasized as a cause of failure] may have contributed. Subsequent investigative lab report.

July 13, 2017 Promulgation of Sunoco Operations Manual only three months after Morgantown. Not shared with Flynn Complainants until August rejoinder outlines. Manual contains integrity management material that should have been disclosed with other IM materials during August 2019 review.

July 2017 Environmental Hearing Board orders a statewide emergency stop to horizontal directional drilling for the Mariner East 2 pipelines after a series of drilling fluid spills and drinking water well contamination incidents.

November, 2017 First subsidence event at Lisa Drive associated with IR [inadvertent return or “frac-out”] from HDD [horizontal directional drilling].  

January, 2018 Following continued threats to drinking water supplies, unauthorized construction activity, and what DEP found to be numerous “egregious and willful” violations of permits, DEP ordered a statewide shutdown of construction activity for ME2 pipelines. DEP noted a remedy short of shutdown “would not be adequate to affect prompt or effective correction of the conditions or violations demonstrated by Sunoco’s lack of ability or intention to comply.”

March 1, 2018 Two additional subsidence events at Lisa Drive, associated with HDD pullback.

March 2018 Pursuant to an investigation and request from the Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement, the PUC issued an emergency order shutting down operation of the Mariner East 1 pipeline, finding that “permitting the continued flow of hazardous liquids through the ME1 pipeline without the proper steps to ensure the integrity of the pipeline could have catastrophic results impacting the public.”

March 19-23, 2018 Violations of CP [cathodic protection, the main anti-corrosion method] at Honey Brook, Chester County at nine locations discussed with Sunoco personnel at the time. Formal NOV [Notice of Violation] not sent until February 2019. Sunoco did not contest violations.

April 1, 2018 22 new standard operating procedures were initiated; April 4, one more. Putative reason: Routine in Energy Transfer acquisition. In fact, every single one related to issues raised in the Honey Brook discussions only a week earlier.

May 2018 Citing a need to protect the public from “sinkholes, water contamination, damage to public and private property, degradation of natural resources, physical injury and death,” the Honorable Judge Barnes issued an Interim Emergency Order granting Senator Andrew Dinniman’s request for relief, and enjoining Sunoco “from beginning and shall cease and desist all current operation, construction, including drilling activities on the ME1, ME2 and Mariner East 2X pipeline in West Whiteland Township, Pennsylvania.”

June 15, 2018 The PUC finds that since May 9, 2017, DEP has issued over 50 notices of Violation for IRs and other violations, including those occurring in West Whiteland Twp.

June 16, 2018 Report dated 8/16/18. Accident occurred at Darby Creek, Delaware County on twelve-inch Point Breeze to Montello pipeline. Corrosion fatigue and hydrogen cracking were found under an area of disbonded coal tar coating. 246 barrels (10,332 gallons) of product leaked into creek.

January 15, 2020 Matergenics Direct Testimony of Dr. Zee in which Sunoco’s CP [cathodic protection] is criticized.

May 1, 2020 Eight new standard operating procedures initiated without explanation. [Sunoco witnesses] Field and Garrity said all procedures went into effect in April 2018. In fact, eight came out just six weeks before Field and Garrity rebuttal testimony. Six of the eight relate to matters raised by Dr. Zee.

August 4, 2020 DEP Consent Order related to violations of three Erosion and Sediment Control permits and 17 Water and Encroachment and Obstruction permits relating to HDD activities in Berks, Blair, Cambria, Cumberland, Delaware, Lebanon, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties. Between August 3, 2018 and April 27, 2019, 67 IRs occurred either within or discharged into waters of the Commonwealth. Sunoco agreed to pay $355,636 in penalties for said violations after previous assessment of $12.5 million fine.

August 10, 2020 Marsh Creek IR. Sunoco reports approximately 8,163 gallons of drilling fluids had surfaced into a wetland and two tributaries, some of which were entering Marsh Creek Lake.