Mariner East 2 to resume construction following agreement with Pa. regulators

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The project, created to add 275,000 b/d of capacity to move propane and butane from plants in western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to the Marcus Hook terminal in eastern Pennsylvania, remains on track to enter service in the second quarter of 2018, Jeff Shields, a spokesman for project owner Energy Transfer said in an email Friday.

The consent order lifts a January 3 DEP decree that suspended permitted construction on the 350-mile pipeline to correct Sunoco's "egregious and willful violations", including unauthorized drilling to install the pipeline and failing to notify the agency when discharges or spills of drilling fluid occurred.

"Our action to suspend the permits associated with this project, and the collection of this penalty, are indicative of the strict oversight that DEP has consistently exercised over this project".

In a statement, DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said the Department will continue to monitor and enforce the conditions of the permits and take actions when violations occur.

The $12.6 million penalty will go to the Clean Water Fund and the Dams and Encroachments Fund.

State Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester County), an outspoken critic of the pipeline, rejected the DEP's assurances, saying the fine won't undo the environmental damage done by the pipeline construction so far, and accusing DEP of ignoring community calls for an assessment of safety risks that may be posed by the pipeline. The penalty is one of the largest civil penalties collected in a single settlement.

Among the violations reported across the state, the owners of private wells in Cumberland County near North Locust Point Road in Silver Spring Township reported cloudy water in December in areas where the DEP reported that Sunoco's crews used a method of digging that wasn't allowed under its permits.

"While we strongly disagree with their legal conclusions that our conduct was willful or egregious, we felt it was important to our unit holders and to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that we move forward rather than engage in continued litigation", Shields said in the email.

Sunoco Pipeline in a statement Thursday said it was "committed to fully complying with the DEP order".

He said the agreement relies on Sunoco's promises to do better, but those have not proved fruitful in the year that Mariner East 2, now scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2018, has been under construction.

The $2.5 billion Mariner East 2 project traverses 17 counties in southern Pennsylvania.

"This outrageous deal sacrifices the health and safety of Pennsylvanians for mere pocket change from Sunoco".

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