Safety means turning off the whole Mariner Project.
We’re winning. But we have further to go.
Sinkholes, Spills and Contaminated Water: Sunoco's Legacy
The Mariner East 2 is a 350-mile pipeline that would carry dangerous highly volatile liquids across the state of Pennsylvania, terminating at the Marcus Hook facility south of Philadelphia. It poses a serious safety risk to communities all along the pipeline route. But communities along the pipeline route have been organizing to stop it, and winning key victories along the way.
Sunoco Has Been Slowed Down, but Not Stopped
The delays to the project give us more time to organize locally, and continue pressuring Governor Wolf to do the right thing. He pushed behind the scenes to approve Sunoco’s construction permits, and his response to the early rounds of spills and water contamination was to say that these pipelines are necessary to live “the life we want to live.”
We refuse to put our homes, schools, water and future at risk, just so Sunoco can make billions by exporting fracked gas liquids to Europe to make plastics.
This pipeline isn't just a threat to local safety while it's being built. It will do damage if it's completed. Sunoco has the worst spill record of any oil pipeline company in the country, and the contents that will be carried in the Mariner East 2 are especially dangerous: colorless, odorless highly volatile liquids that are extremely explosive. Sunoco’s plan is to transport these materials at very high pressures through densely populated communities, to get them to the port near Philadelphia for export.
How Do We Stop Them for Good?
Governor Tom Wolf has the power to protect Pennsylvanians from Mariner East 2. Wolf’s DEP allowed construction on the pipeline to start, granting permits even though Sunoco’s application was riddled with deficiencies. Wolf also appoints the commissioners to the Public Utility Commission (PUC), which has given Sunoco free reign to route their pipeline through densely populated communities.
But political support for the fight against Sunoco continues to grow. In the 2017 municipal elections, anti-pipeline candidates won races for Township Supervisor in West Goshen and Uwchlan Townships, flipping the majority of the Boards in the two communities. State and federal elected officials have also joined the movement against the Mariner East 2: Over 12 local, state, and federal elected officials, Republicans and Democrats alike, have made statements opposing the pipeline.
And in the 2018 elections, pipeline opponents made strong showings in races across the region, most notably in the 155th District, where community leader Danielle Friel Otten won her race for the state House of Representatives. Her victory is especially critical in the campaign to stop Sunoco, since her family’s backyard sits just yards away from the pipeline’s path.
Sunoco is determined to finish building this dangerous pipeline. By turning up the pressure on Governor Wolf, we can win.
Please join this effort by texting ME2 to 69866, and take action here.
The Mariner East 2 is not like a normal pipeline
It carries exceptionally dangerous ethane, propane, butane, and pentane, materials that are called Highly Volatile Liquids. It does not carry ‘natural gas’ that we’d typically use to heat our homes or operate a kitchen stove. When super-pressurized in the pipeline, highly volatile liquids are in the liquid state. However, once a leak occurs, these chemicals vaporize, becoming a low-lying cloud of explosive, odorless gas. They do not disperse into the air. They travel with the wind. And once they find an ignition source, they explode.
There is no oversight of the placement of the pipeline
No state or federal agency has reviewed and permitted the siting of the pipeline. The technical construction and crossing of waterways have been permitted, but no governmental officials have reviewed whether the path of this pipeline is safe for Pennsylvania communities. Instead, Sunoco is routing this pipeline solely for its own corporate convenience. It will be built near homes, apartment buildings, and even assisted living facilities. Over 40 schools are located within its blast zone. The company has used the threat of eminent domain to bully landowners to clear trees and start construction.
Sunoco’s safety record
According to one recent evaluation of government safety records, Sunoco has had more oil leaks than any other pipeline company in the country. People in the affected communities feel like it’s only a matter of time before a disaster strikes. And they know that when it does happen, there is no way to keep them safe. There is no feasible evacuation plan if you happen to live, or send your kids to school, within the “blast zone.” And there are no adequate plans for evacuation given the population density in the affected areas.
What’s happened so far
Since construction commenced in early 2017, there have been over 100 reported spills of drilling fluid. Sunoco’s reckless drilling created several massive sinkholes, and contaminated the water supplies for 15 families in West Whiteland Township, and even punched an aquifer. Sunoco’s demonstrated negligence led a judge to order a halt to all drilling activities for several weeks in August 2017.
After months of inaction, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) finally stepped in and ordered a temporary halt to construction at the beginning of 2018. This motivated residents and activists to fight even harder to stop the project. But in February of that year, the DEP announced that it had settled with Sunoco, giving the company the green light to continue construction.
Just weeks later, Sunoco’s construction activity caused sinkholes in Chester County’s West Whiteland Township, spurring the Public Utility Commission to shut down the operation of the Mariner East 1 pipeline, an archaic 80-year old pipe already carrying these highly volatile liquids alongside the path of Mariner East 2.
And then in December 2018, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced that he was opening a wide-ranging criminal investigation of the pipeline, in response to the community opposition to the damage that Sunoco has already done. Nonetheless, around the same time Sunoco parent Energy Transfer announced that it was placing a version of the Mariner East 2 into service. But this “Frankenpipe” is a patchwork system of aging, smaller pipelines re-purposed for this new project. So while Sunoco failed to build the pipeline it intended, the dangerous gas liquids are flowing through a makeshift system that pleases investors while endangering nearby communities.
The risks were further magnified when Governor Wolf announced in February 2019 that he was suspending permits on all Energy Transfer projects in the state, further delaying the Mariner East pipelines and other fossil fuels projects. Wolf cited the company’s non-compliance with environmental regulations, releasing a statement saying, “There has been a failure by Energy Transfer and its subsidiaries to respect our laws and our communities.”
This has been true throughout the process, and Governor Wolf has let them get away with it.
For more information about the fight against ME2: