Sunoco is trenching through the middle of the Glen Riddle Station (GRS) apartment complex in Middletown, Delaware County. I recently posted about the suit that GRS management has brought against Middletown Township for permitting work to continue despite apparent violations of the rules about emergency access in the event of a fire.

On February 10, Sunoco’s contractor placed “Danger” signs at the GRS property warning people to keep 100 yards away from the construction area. But that 100-yard danger zone includes four of the apartment buildings in the complex, and part of the fifth. Several hundred apartment dwellers at Glen Riddle have no choice but to live in that zone. The signs were placed with no explanation, without communicating the nature of the danger to either GRS management or the residents.

In response, GRS management contacted Sunoco’s lawyers, who said the signs were ‘incorrectly placed” and would be removed and replaced by more generic warning signs.

The PUC “Petition for Interim Emergency Relief”. Because the nature of the danger, and the safe distance, was not made clear, GRS management filed an emergency petition with the PUC. You can read it here. In the petition, GRS argues that Sunoco has failed in its duties to properly inform the public. Sunoco is obliged to notify residents of “the extent of the danger and measures are taken to provide for their safety,” but they have not done so. The signs, GRS says, have caused GRS residents to panic.

The petition lays out the circumstances of the construction, provides photos of the signs and copies of email correspondence with Sunoco lawyers, and cites the relevant regulations and previous cases. The “relief” requested by the petition is that the PUC restrain Sunoco “from engaging in any further work at the Property until the approval of a plan addressing the scope of the Danger Area created by [Sunoco’s] work and providing for the safety of those within its vicinity and appropriate communication regarding same to the affected public.”

The emergency petition also argues that the situation meets the PUC’s four criteria for granting emergency relief:

  1. The need for relief is clear
  2. The need for relief is immediate
  3. The injury would be irreparable if not granted
  4. The relief requested is not injurious to the public interest

The whole point of emergency petitions is that they are acted on quickly, so we should know within a few days whether the PUC will take this one seriously. We have seen in past cases that the PUC has several options. Among them: it could halt work at the site, pending resolution of the issues; it could allow work to continue, but hold an accelerated hearing within a few weeks; or it could dismiss the petition. I will keep you posted as the case evolves.