HARRISBURG >> The full Public Utility Commission will meet Thursday to formally ratify the shutdown of the Mariner East 1 pipeline after last week’s ruling by PUC Chair Gladys Brown’s March 7 decision to shut it down.
Brown responded with the emergency order after Sunoco Pipeline drilling of the Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline likely caused three sinkholes to develop in backyards at Lisa Drive in West Whiteland Township.
The Emergency Order requires additional testing and analysis on ME1, in response to safety concerns regarding the integrity of that pipeline which were raised by the PUC’s independent Bureau of Investigation & Enforcement – which includes the PUC’s Pipeline Safety Division, reads a PUC release.
The release stated that in response to questions raised by concerned citizens, legislators, the media and others following this case, the commission noted several key points:
• At its March 15 Public Meeting, the commission will vote on ratifying the Emergency Order regarding Sunoco Pipeline L.P., which was authorized on March 7.
• PUC procedural regulations require any emergency order be placed on the agenda of the commission’s next public meeting for a ratification vote.
• This is a ratification vote and not a public hearing. No public testimony will be taken at the March 15 public meeting, on the emergency order or any other agenda item.
• The March 15 meeting is open to the public and will be livestreamed on the PUC’s website at www.puc.pa.gov. The PUC also routinely posts video of the public meetings following the meetings.
• This matter remains an active and ongoing investigation by the commission’s independent Bureau of Investigation & Enforcement.
• Future actions by the commission will be contingent upon whether and how the terms and conditions of the emergency order are satisfied.
• Any reinstatement of service will require formal action by the commission, at which time the commission will outline the process for addressing those matters.
• Any additional public documents will be posted to the PUC’s online docket for this case – P-2018-3000281.
Jeff Shields, Sunoco Pipeline communications manager, responded on Tuesday: “We are focused on performing the required work and preparing to share our information with the appropriate regulators so that we can safely return ME1 to service.”
The Mariner East 1 pipeline was built in the 1930s and ships highly volatile liquids 350 miles from Marcellus shale deposits in western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to the former Sunoco Refinery in Marcus Hook, Delaware County.
The Mariner East 2 pipeline is under construction. Shields said Sunoco expects the Mariner East 2 pipeline to go online by the end of June in much of the same right-of-way as the Mariner East 1 pipeline.
Butane, propane and ethane will be shipped overseas to make plastic bottles.