Dragonpipe Diary

Mariner East 2 and me

Key dates in the history of the Dragonpipe

Here are a few important dates in the saga of the Dragonpipe (Mariner East 2). I will be updating this with additional dates from time to time.

1930 & 1931: Components of the pipeline that is now called Mariner East 1 (ME1) were built by the Susquehanna Pipe Line Company and the Keystone Pipe Line Company to transport petroleum products to western Pennsylvania from ports on the Delaware River. These changed hands several times over the years, merging into a single pipeline network.

2002: Sunoco acquires ME1 pipeline

2013: Sunoco temporarily retires ME1 pipeline

2014: Sunoco reopens and reverses the direction of flow of ME1 to carry natural gas liquids (NGLs) from western Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook for export to Europe

November, 2016: First shipment of NGLs to Scotland, marking the beginning of full operation of ME1

April 1, 2017: ME1 leaks 20 barrels of NGLs near Morgantown, PA, the third ME1 leak since NGL transport began.

April, 2017: Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) for Mariner East 2 (ME2) underway at first drill site (Judy Way in Aston, PA)

April 28, 2017: Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) completes its acquisition of Sunoco

May 11, 2017: Drilling fluid surfaces in yards at 5005 & 5007 Chester Creek Road, Brookhaven, PA: the first of many frac-outs in Delaware and Chester counties.

May 12, 2017: Drilling fluid in Chester Creek

June 15, 2017: Another leak of drilling fluid at Chester Creek

June 17, 2017: Drilling fluid surfaces in Upper Uwchlan Township, PA

June 23, 2017 (approximate date): Drill at Shoen Road (near Exton, PA) hits aquifer, causing water-quality problems and loss of water in nearby wells.

July 4, 2017: Dragonpipe Diary launched, with home page and four posts.

July 7, 2017: Water problems at Shoen Road become public. Five families moved to hotels. Ultimately, Sunoco pays to have 30 homes with private wells connected to the public water supply.

July 10, 2017: West Goshen files for an “interim emergency order” with the Public Utility Commission regarding Sunoco/ETP’s breach of agreement about site of a valve station.  The PUC declines to act.

July 17, 2017: Drilling fluid released near Glen Riddle in Middletown Township. The  same drill hit two springs, causing a large release of ground water and reportedly draining a local private well.

July 19, 2017: Documents uncovered by Clean Air Council and two other organizations show dozens of drilling problems that had not been made public.

July 22, 2017: Protest rally at Sleighton Park, Delaware County.

July 24, 2017: West Goshen wins a stay on construction and drilling on the tract of land under dispute with Sunoco/ETP.

July 25, 2017: Clean Air Council, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and the Mountain Watershed Association granted a drilling suspension for the entire state of Pennsylvania, until at least August 7.

August 9, 2017: Sunoco agrees to a series of requirements to settle the PUC petition by Clean Air Council and two other groups. The agreement requires them to do a better job of warning well owners and to reevaluate many of their plans for horizontal directional drilling.

September 9, 2017: “StopETP Day”. “Yoga on the Line” at Marcus Hook and a protest rally at Boot Road and Paoli Pike. The first meeting of the organization that will become Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety.

October 8, 2017: Protest rally at Andover subdivision in Delaware County. Prayer flags hung on construction equipment. First local encounter with TigerSwan security.

October 17, 2017: Thousands of petitions are delivered to Governor Wolf in Harrisburg, asking for a halt to pipeline construction.

November 11, 2017: Drilling causes a sinkhole and frac-out in a residential backyard in Exton. By now, there have been over 100 frac-outs in various places along the pipeline.

November 19, 2017: About 100 people showed up for a protest rally at the Chester County public library on a bitter cold day, the largest rally so far.

January 3, 2018: After many violations of permits and regulations, the PA Department of Environmental Protection issues an Administrative Order temporarily shutting down all pipeline construction.

January 11, 2018: State Senator Andy Dinniman hosts an initial meeting to discuss ways to conduct an independent risk assessment for Chester and Delaware counties.

February 13, 2018: Newly-elected board in Uwchlan authorizes solicitor to enforce zoning ordinances (which Sunoco is in violation of).

February 14, 2018: Delaware County Council, after contentious debate, authorizes a “Pipeline Hazard Analysis” for the county.

March 3, 2018: Two more sinkholes along Lisa Drive in Exton.

March 7, 2018: PUC inspectors visit Lisa Drive after Mariner East 1, the old 8-inch line that is already in operation, is exposed by a sinkhole. They request an immediate shutdown. Sunoco refuses a voluntary shutdown, so the PUC orders it. The order is ratified by full PUC vote on March 15.

April 5, 2018: Sunoco issues a press release claiming their equipment was vandalized and posts $10,000 reward for information.

April 9, 2018: Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety suggests that the vandalism was done by Sunoco’s own agents to discredit opponents. A $10,000 reward is posted for information leading to the identity of those agents.

April 24, 2018: Multiple frac-outs at Tunbridge Apartments in Middletown, Delaware County, as a result of drilling. (These will continue, with increasing severity and area of involvement, in the following months.)

April 26, 2018: State Senator Dinniman petitions the PUC for continued halt to Mariner East 1 operation and Mariner East 2 and 2x construction in West Whiteland, on safety grounds.

May 3, 2018: PUC votes to resume Mariner East 1 operation.

May 21, 2018: A contractor for Aqua, the local water utility, hits the not-yet-active Dragonpipe (ME2) while excavating in Middletown, Delaware County. This is not reported by either Aqua or Sunoco (who had an employee on site), but word gets out two weeks later. Middletown Township does not learn of it for 17 days.

May 24, 2018: PUC Administrative Law Judge grants Dinniman’s petition, so Mariner East 1 is shut down again.

June 14, 2018: Full PUC votes on Dinniman’s petition. Mariner East 1 is permitted to resume operation, but construction of the Dragonpipe in West Whiteland is still halted.

Late June, 2018: Sunoco decides it will use an old 12-inch pipeline to bypass the parts of the Dragonpipe it is having trouble completing. This leads to a patchwork pipeline system that Sunoco calls “Mariner East 2” but that is locally know as the “Frankenpipe”.

July 10, 2018: Sit-in by six “mama bears” at a drill site near Glenwood Elementary School. Two were arrested.

July 25, 2018: Delaware County Council votes to request proposals for a risk assessment.

August 28, 2018: Public presentation of first results from “Citizens’ Risk Assessment” at Fuggett Middle School.

September 9, 2018: Having failed to penetrate difficult rock at the Tunbridge drill site, Sunoco is abandoning that HDD for the time being.

September 10, 2018: A Sunoco gas line, in operation less than a week, explodes in Beaver County. The line was intended to feed raw gas from wells to a processing plant.

September 17, 2018: Fluorescent green water appears in the pipeline easement near the Shoen Road drill site. It is probably tracer dye from pressure testing of the 12-inch line; if so, the line is leaking. Sunoco tells PHMSA that it tested the water and it was just algae; that turns out to be false–apparently no test was done.

October 19, 2018: Final report of Citizens’ Risk Assessment is released.

November 6, 2018: Election day. Many pipeline opponents elected to state and local positions.

November 28, 2018: Delaware County releases the risk assessment it commissioned. It shows that the area threatened by a flammable cloud from a pipeline rupture is far larger than previously recognized.

November 29, 2018: Day 1 of the “Safety Seven” (Flynn et al.) emergency hearings before the PUC. The hearings continued into the next day. Ultimately, the Administrative Law Judge found that an emergency shut-down was not justified, but allowed the case to continue as a “formal complaint”.

December 4, 2018: E. Goshen votes to “intervene” in the Safety Seven case, the first of many municipalities to do so. Delaware and Chester County would subsequently file to intervene, as would four local school districts, making this by far the most prominent PUC pipeline case to date.

December 13, 2018: The PUC’s own Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement files a complaint against Sunoco arising out of their investigation of the 2017 leak near Morgantown. Sunoco has failed to follow its own maintenance procedures, resulting in corrosion that led to the leak. This could be happening across the state.

December 19, 2018: The Chester County District Attorney launches a criminal investigation into Sunoco’s pipeline-related actions.

December 29, 2018: Sunoco announces that “ME2” (the Frankenpipe) is operational.

January 9, 2019: The Environmental Hearing Board finds that Sunoco misrepresented its construction at Marcus Hook and the DEP improperly approved it.

January 20, 2019:  A new sinkhole appears on Lisa Drive. Mariner East 1 is shut down by the PUC as a result.

January 27. 2019: Hankin Group is refusing to renew construction easements at two drill sites and is suing Sunoco for tresspass there.

February 4, 2019: Two butane leaks at Marcus Hook. There was a highway closure by local police, but county emergency officials were never notified.

February 4, 2019: PHMSA (federal pipeline agency) serves Sunoco with a Notice of Probable Violation in connection with the 2017 Morgantown leak.

February 8, 2019: Governor Wolf speaks out about the Mariner East project for the first time. He instructs DEP not to issue any more permits for the time being, and asks the PUC to insist on a “remaining life study” for ME1. He also indicates support for legislation that will improve pipeline regulation.

February 28, 2019: Chester County commissioners will not renew Sunoco’s construction easement near the library and mall.

March 4, 2019: Chester County is impaneling a grand jury in its Sunoco investigation. A few days later, the Delaware County DA and the state Attorney General announce a separate criminal investigation.

March 19, 2019: “SOS” rally in Harrisburg. About 100 people converge on Harrisburg for a rally demanding that Mariner East be shut down until it can be proven safe.

April 3, 2019: The PUC’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement and Sunoco reach compromise agreement to settle Morgantown investigation. This settlement will later be rejected by the PUC commissioners.

April 19, 2019: Ethics Commission finds evidence of unethical behavior in Wolf’s office in the issuing of DEP permits, but not enough to show a violation of the Ethics Act.

April 24, 2019: Sinkhole opens near the State Police barracks on Route 1, Middletown, presumably as a result of pipeline construction. Sunoco fills it before it can be examined.

Early May, 2019: ME1 flow resumes after PUC is satisfied it is “stabilized” after Lisa Drive sinkholes.

July 18-19, 2019: Wilmer Baker has his hearing at the PUC representing himself. Sunoco’s lawyers succeed in making things difficult for him.

August 5, 2019: An explosion inside the flare tower at Boot Road is heard for miles.

August 22, 2019: Gov. Wolf arrives for an unpublicized visit to the pipeline construction area—his first.

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