Guest post by Ginny Kerslake
Almost two years after the roughly 28,000 gallon spill of HDD drilling fluid into Marsh Creek Lake the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced it is finally holding a public hearing and comment period for Energy Transfer/Sunoco’s proposed remediation plan.
Basically Sunoco proposes to suction off (on average) the top 6 inches of lake bed in the 14 acres where they claim the bulk of the spill settled in Ranger Arm; pump this slurry to a new 4 acre worksite in the meadow between Lakeside Rd and the lake; use flocculants to dewater the slurry; and then haul the sediments away and discharge the filtrate back to the lake.
Of course the lake MUST be remediated but the proposed plan raises multiple concerns and must be denied.
Don’t let Sunoco monitor their own work. First and foremost, the cleanup of our treasured lake and drinking water reservoir should not be entrusted to this corporation which has amassed an unprecedented 126 Notices of Violation and 48 charges for environmental crimes for Mariner East construction. The assessment of the extent and nature of the contamination (including the presence of unapproved drilling fluid additives) and the design and implementation of the cleanup must be conducted by a qualified, reputable and independent third party, paid for by Sunoco.
Beyond that, the plan itself raises concerns including, but not limited to the following:
- What’s being discharged? The plan includes the use of a flocculant to reduce the processing time. Laboratory analysis was conducted, but only on the effectiveness of flocculants at various concentrations. No chemical analysis of the filtrate was performed to determine the presence of any contaminants to be discharged back into the lake, including unapproved additives which the Attorney General has criminally charged Sunoco for adding to Mariner East drilling fluids
- How concentrated will it be? Sunoco plans to use the flocculant Aquafloc C1320 at 200 mg/L to reduce the time required to dewater the slurry. As per the Safety Data Sheet Aquafloc is toxic to fish, algae and invertebrates at concentrations >100mg/L. No determination was made of the concentration of Aquafloc in the water to be discharged back into lake.
- Why this work site? The 4-acre site chosen by Sunoco to stockpile, process and haul away the dewatered sediment is in a residential neighborhood. It will impact the quality of life for residents for a couple of months, disrupting their summer view and enjoyment of the lake. It will force them to endure the noise and dust of construction traffic in their quiet neighborhood, including dump trucks and street sweepers (following months of open trench construction of Mariner East through the area). No reason is given for why this site was chosen instead of a nearby property at the lake which already had a temporary workspace and would have a lesser impact.
The DEP should have required Marsh Creek Lake to be cleaned up BEFORE they allowed construction to restart at the lake, but they did not. The DEP does hold a four million dollar bond from Sunoco for the satisfactory cleanup.
What can you do? Speak at the public hearing and/or submit written comments requesting that the DEP reject the Sunoco’s plan and have the assessment and cleanup of the spill conducted by a qualified, reputable and independent third party, paid for by Sunoco.
The virtual Public Hearing is Tuesday March 8 at 6pm. Contact Virginia Nurk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 484-250-5808 at least 24 hours prior to the hearing to register. Those wishing only to listen, but not testify, may access the hearing by following the instructions provided on the Virtual Public Hearings web page found on www.dep.pa.gov/virtualhearings
Verbal testimony will be limited to 3 minutes for each person
Written public comments are due Friday March 11, 2022. Submit to RA-EPWW-SERO@pa.gov or mail to the Southeast Regional Office, Waterways and Wetlands Program, 2 E. Main St. Norristown, PA 19401 by March 11, 2022 To assist with routing write “Comments on ME2 Amendment Application, Chester County” in the email subject line or on the envelope.