letter, Daily Local News, 2/4/19 (in print 2/14/19)
On Sunday January 20th, 2019, yet another sinkhole opened up in a residential backyard in West Whiteland Township, exposing Mariner East 1. Mariner East 1 is an 80 year old pipeline that was repurposed and its flow reversed (against PHMSA recommendations) in 2014 to carry dangerous Natural Gas Liquids across Pennsylvania to be shipped overseas to make plastic. This is the 4th sinkhole on this street in 14 months, all caused by the Mariner East project. Directly impacted residents notified Sunoco, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and called 911.
It has become clear that the PUC is not an unbiased regulator when it comes to the oil and gas industry. Senator Dinniman even recently stated “It’s like the Public Utility Commission is all ‘utility’ and no ‘public’.”
The PUC is using the ARM Group, which is a full-service science and engineering consulting firm, “to monitor geological testing of the site and analyze the results for the PUC investigators”. The ARM Group is the same firm that was utilized last spring after previous sinkholes and ground subsidence concerns. According to that 2018 report, the ARM Group concluded that “the corrective actions taken and planned to be taken by Sunoco Pipeline L.P. (grouting and post-grouting monitoring program) as described herein will be sufficient to mitigate the risk to the integrity of the ME1 Pipeline”. To summarize, less than 9 months after the ARM Group determined this location to be stable, another sinkhole appeared, and the PUC has contracted them to do the same work again. Continue reading