Citing 100+ Violations and Dozens of Criminal Charges Against Sunoco, Environmental Groups Call on Pennsylvania DEP to Deny Mariner East 2 Permits

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Climate and Energy

On February 12, 2022 the state permits issued five years ago for construction of Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline, a dangerous project to ship fracked ethane across Pennsylvania for plastics production overseas, will expire. Echoing comments submitted by scores of Pennsylvanians, five Pennsylvania environmental groups submitted joint comments to the state Department of Environmental Protection calling on the agency to deny the renewal of permits.

Their comments note that Sunoco “has failed and continues to fail to comply with any [relevant] provisions of the law,” and “has shown a lack of ability or intention to comply with such laws as indicated by past or continuing violations.” The comments note that in light of Sunoco’s track record of more than 100 violations and its ongoing failure to comply with cleanup, restoration, remediation and mitigation orders, renewal of its operating permits would be unlawful under section 609 of the state’s Clean Streams Law.

“The scores of violations, dozens of criminal charges, spills, accidents, illnesses and even a death associated with this ill-fated pipeline project speak volumes about what a bad actor Sunoco has been,” said Ginny Marcille-Kerslake, Pennsylvania organizer with Food & Water Watch. “What more evidence could the DEP possibly need to conclude that construction of the Mariner East pipeline must be halted indefinitely, pending a thorough legal review by state officials and full remediation of the impacts?”

The groups submitting the comments include Clean Air Council, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Food & Water Watch, Mountain Watershed Association and Protect PT.

The comments go on to note that Sunoco’s application for the renewal of permits is wholly incomplete, lacking necessary details and specifics on plans for further construction. “Without this information, it is not possible for Commenters to weigh in on what is acceptable and what is not” in the proposal. “The [DEP] itself does not have enough information to make a reasoned decision…”

In addition to articulating the immediate legal imperative of denying the permit renewals, the comments chart the disaster-prone history of the various Mariner East pipeline projects, including a series of unresolved sinkholes across West Whiteland Township, numerous leaks, spills and groundwater seeps, multiple cases of highly dangerous water runoff onto streets, and the tragic death of a teenager.

On January 25, 2020, 18-year old Maclean Maund was killed when his vehicle spun out on a patch of frozen water runoff from an ME2 worksite and was hit by oncoming traffic. Maund’s family has filed suit against Sunoco over the tragic occurrence. “The loss of this young life was completely avoidable,” said Gillian Graber, executive director of Protect PT (Penn-Trafford). “Allowing a criminal like Sunoco to present this application in its current form only perpetuates the certainty of continued harm and  the probability of more environmental crimes in our state.”