Killion Joins Pipeline Fight; Looks to Intervene in ‘Super 7’ Complaint
Add one more voice to the army of those raising questions about the massive Mariner East pipeline project.
And this one carries a little more “oomph.”
Sen. Tom Killion, R-9 of Middletown, has petitioned to join residents in their quest to address major safety concerns with the project before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Killion is seeking to add his name to a PUC complaint filed by seven residents of Chester and Delaware Counties. Referred to as the “Safety Seven” complaint, it is considered one of the leading pipeline safety actions filed with the PUC, which has regulatory authority over pipelines in the state.
Killion has entered the fray after earlier deciding not to add his name to a letter signed by a bipartisan group of state representatives to Gov. Tom urging him to shut down pipeline construction, citing a lack of an emergency response plan for local responders.
“Nothing is more important than the safety of our families,” said Killion. “The pipeline is by far the top local issue for residents, and I’m proud to stand with them in this crucial effort to protect our communities,” he added.
Killion, who has twice called on the PUC to enforce a shutdown of the Mariner East pipeline until stringent safety standards were met and has proposed a dozen pipeline safety bills with fellow senators, said he has become even more concerned about public safety with the continuing lack of proper emergency management planning.
Killion recently worked for weeks to help provide copies of pipeline safety plans to county emergency personnel, only to have a heavily redacted and largely useless copy arrive from federal authorities.
Noting that a large pipeline explosion occurred last September in Beaver County, Killion said, “I don’t see how anyone can have confidence that the public is sufficiently protected from a catastrophic pipeline event in our communities.”
The Safety Seven PUC complaint Killion is joining states that Mariner East pipelines are being operated without an adequate public awareness program, emergency notification system, and credible emergency management plans, among other things.
Killion is asking the PUC to require the installment of a mass early warning notification system for pipeline failures, public education and emergency response plans, and pipeline impact studies on the Mariner East project.
While Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19 of West Whiteland, has filed his own complaint before the PUC, Killion is the only legislator to petition the PUC to join one of the numerous pipeline complaints initiated by citizens.
For his PUC petition, Killion is represented by the Lamb McErlane law firm in West Chester, which has filed several pipeline safety petitions with the PUC.
Guy Donatelli, (Partner at Lamb McErlane PC) one of the attorneys representing Killion, said, “This is a significant PUC pipeline complaint, and we very much look forward to representing Senator Killion in his efforts to protect his constituents. We also look forward to help ensuring the safety of local communities impacted by the pipeline.”
Mariner East is a massive, multi-billion dollar project being built by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, and their local affiliates, Sunoco Logistics and Sunoco Pipeline LP. The pipeline will carry hundreds of thousands of barrels of highly volatile liquid gases every day across the 350-mile width of Pennsylvania to a facility in Marcus Hook.
The project, cheered by labor and commerce groups, has drawn vehement opposition from citizen group, who believe it never should have been routed through densely populated neighborhoods.
The project has been plagued by construction problems, including spills, runoffs and sinkholes.
It also is the target of several criminal probes, including an investigative grand jury impaneled by Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan, and a joint investigation being done by Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
Energy Transfer has said there is no need for a probe, that they will cooperate fully, while insisting Mariner East is being built and will operate to the highest industry standards.
Mariner East 1, which had been online for months, is currently shut down by the state after sinkholes formed for a second time in a Chester County neighborhood. Mariner East 2 came online the last week of December, but with gaps in the line caused by construction delays filled in with a smaller, older pipe. The full 20-inch Mariner East 2 pipeline now likely will not be completed until at least 2020. Mariner East 2x remains under construction.
The state has halted all construction permits for the Mariner East project while it investigates the cause of the sinkholes in Chester County.
PETE BANNAN – MEDIANEWS GROUP