Del-Chesco United slams ET/Sunoco over Mariner East II discharge into Marsh Creek Lake

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By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

A view of mud plume ejected into Marsh Creek Lake. Courtesy, Del-Chesco United.

Environmental groups are asking for a state investigation of a release of mud and potentially other substances into Marsh Creek Lake Monday as part of construction work on the Mariner East II pipeline pipeline — although Energy Transfer/Sunoco, the company building the pipeline, said Tuesday that the material released was not harmful to the lake.

Del-Chesco United, which has been citing construction, safety and environmental issues with the projects for a number of years, was less sanguine about the release, arguing that ET/Sunoco has been unwilling to specify the chemicals used in the boring/drilling process.

“The release is a problem, not only because of the murky water and the fish and wildlife it will affect, but also because the ‘drilling mud’ includes ingredients that Sunoco has been unwilling to disclose,” Del-Chesco United said in a statement, Tuesday. “These are potentially dangerous to wildlife, and ultimately, to drinking water. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) classifies drilling mud as industrial waste.”

Del-Chesco cited another event this week, in West Whiteland:

“This accident, plus another frac-out this week at Shoen Road in densely-populated West Whiteland Township, Chester County, are the latest demonstrations that this construction project is seriously damaging our environment and must be shut down,” Del-Chesco’s statement said. “Both releases were predictable (and in fact, were predicted) but the DEP and the Governor did nothing to prevent them.”

A statement by ET/Sunoco issued Tuesday said the company disagrees with that account, saying the discharge was non-toxic clay and water and that the company was working with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to rectify the situation:

“We experienced an inadvertent return (IR) of water and bentonite clay yesterday that entered into a tributary for Marsh Creek Lake in Upper Uwchlan Township,” the EtTSunoco statement said. “We recognize the importance of this waterbody and are committed to allocating all necessary resources to fully remediate and restore the area; which includes removing the non-toxic bentonite clay and water mix—sometimes referred to as “drilling mud”. The critical resources have been mobilized and the cleanup process is currently underway. We are working with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on our clean up response.

“While IRs are not unexpected, we try to take all precautions to avoid them from happening and to minimize the impacts when they do. IRs are covered in our permit applications approved by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). We comply with an Inadvertent Return Contingency Plan by responding to and containing the inadvertent return to avoid any adverse impacts, and by reporting them to the DEP.”

Del-Chesco argues that this incident and others prove that the pipeline, which is scheduled to carry natural gas liquids, will not be safe — and as designed could represent a hazard to residents.

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