DEP fines Sunoco $313K for pipeline violations

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has announced that it has issued two penalties to Sunoco Pipeline LP totaling more than $313,000 for violations resulting from construction activities on the Mariner East 2 pipeline project.

“DEP is committed to ensuring that Sunoco and other companies are held to the highest standard possible. These actions, which resulted in violations of permits and laws that are meant to protect our waterways, are unacceptable,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said. “DEP will maintain the stringent oversight that we have consistently exercised by monitoring Sunoco and taking all steps necessary to ensure that the company complies with its permits and the law.”

DEP issued a Consent Assessment of Civil Penalty (CACP) to Sunoco for violations of the Clean Streams Law and Dam Safety and Encroachment Act that occurred in 2018 during construction activities in 10 counties.

Specifically, horizontal dril­l­ing activities resulted in unauthorized discharges of drilling fluids consisting of bentonite clay and water, also known as inadvertent returns, to the following surface waters:

– Two wetlands in Blair and Frankstown townships in Blair County.

– Unnamed tributaries to Stewart Run, Hinckston Run and two wetlands in Cambria County.

– A wetland and Aughwick in Shirley Township, Huntingdon County.

– An unnamed tributary to Sewickley Creek in Sewickley Township in Westmoreland County.

– East Branch Conestoga River in Caernarvon Township, Berks County.

– A wetland in Middles­ex Town­ship, Cumberland Coun­­ty.

– Chester Creek and a wetland in Middletown Township, Delaware County.

– Snitz Creek in West Cornwall Township, Lebanon County.

– A wetland in Toboyne Township, Perry County.

– An unnamed tributary to Peters Creek in Nottingham Township and an unnamed tributary to Little Chartiers Creek in North Strabane Township in Washington County.

As part of the agreement, DEP has assessed a civil penalty of $240,840 for the violations, which Sunoco has agreed to pay to the commonwealth and the county conservation districts.

DEP also issued a CACP to Sunoco for violation of its permits and the Clean Streams Law that occurred in 2017 during construction activities that resulted in accelerated erosion and sedimentation at sites in Lower Frankford, Upper Frankford, Lower Mifflin and North Middleton townships in Cumberland County.

Specifically, Sunoco failed to implement effective best management practices to minimize erosion and sedimentation at the sites; failed to temporarily stabilize all areas of the sites upon completion of earth disturbance activities at the sites; created a potential for sediment pollution to Rock Run; conducted earth disturbance activities at the sites that violated its erosion and sediment control permit; and caused or allowed accelerated erosion that resulted sedimentation from earth disturbance activities to enter unnamed tributaries to Doubling Gap Creek, Conodoquinet Creek and Rock Run.

As part of the agreement, DEP has assessed a civil penalty of $78,621 for the violations, which Sunoco has agreed to pay to the commonwealth and the Cumberland County Conservation District.

Additional information, including the CACPs and supporting documents, can be found on DEP’s Mariner East 2 webpage.

State agencies have provided unprecedented oversight over the Mariner East Project, issuing more than 80 violations and levying more than $13 million in penalties. DEP has also implemented significant new processes as a result of the experience gained on a project of unprecedented scope and impact including:

– Improved coordination with the PUC and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

– Improved internal coordination and implementation through the establishment of a Regional Pipeline Permitting Coordination Office.

– The development of new permit conditions and policy guidelines for future pipeline development projects including more than 100 special permit conditions.

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