EAST GOSHEN >> While performing horizontal directional drilling, Sunoco Pipeline has spilled drilling fluid three times since Saturday at nearly the same site.
Three sets of sand bags were in place Tuesday afternoon at the Boot Road and Enterprise Drive intersection in a bid to contain mud from work on the Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline.
Sunoco Communications Manager Jeff Shields said drilling was stopped on the Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline following the two “small inadvertent returns,” Monday, and another on Saturday, with drilling mud seeping through cracks in the soil. More than a dozen pipeline workers were gathered at the site Tuesday afternoon.
After stopping drilling, the drilling fluid was contained, with cleanup usually accomplished with a vacuum truck, according to Shields. He said no water resources were affected.
Activist Melissa DiBernardino is mother of two students at Ss. Peter and Paul Elementary School, which is less than 100 feet from the prospective pipeline route.
“Sunoco is absolutely not safe,” DiBernardino said. ”I feel bad that people are inconvenienced by spills, but I can’t help but get a little happier because they’re making it easier to shut it down.”
From July 25 to Aug. 9, all horizontal directional drilling by Sunoco statewide was halted by a judge with the Department of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Hearing Board.
Plans call for the Mariner East 2 pipeline to stretch 350 miles from Marcellus Shale Deposits in western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to the former Sunoco Refinery in Marcus Hook, Delaware County. Highly volatile liquids, ethane, butane and propane will then be shipped mainly for export.
The following statement was released by Sam Rubin, organizer with Food & Water Watch:
“Sunoco is a dangerous operator. The one person who can take immediate action to keep our community safe is Gov. Tom Wolf. Gov. Wolf has not lived up to his statutory responsibility to prepare the state of Pennsylvania for the risks of a high pressure ethane pipeline in densely populated areas. We need a full, publicly available and comprehensive safety and preparedness analysis done. Gov. Wolf needs to halt this pipeline until one is complete.
“Today’s leak adds to the proof, which was already abundantly clear, that Sunoco cannot be trusted to operate in a safe manner. There have already been over 100 reported spills and other drilling accidents linked to the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline. We don’t need any more evidence.”
Sunoco may have to stop drilling at the site until approved to restart.
The following is part of the settlement agreement brokered between Sunoco, the DEP and the Clean Air Council: “If the inadvertent return is confirmed to be less than 50 gallons and is the first inadvertent return at an HDD location, HDD operations may continue after containment is achieved and removal of the inadvertent return has been completed, following approval by PADEP or the County Conservation District ... if the inadvertent return is 50 gallons or greater, or of unknown quantity, or is a second or subsequent inadvertent return at an HDD location, drilling operations will be suspended until PADEP inspects the site, concludes that further drilling will not result in additional returns of 50 gallons or greater, and approves a restart of drilling operations.”