Judge Halts Sunoco Pipeline Work In Pennsylvania

WEST CHESTER, Pa. (KDKA/AP) – A judge has temporarily halted work on Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 Pipeline in Pennsylvania.

The Mariner East II pipeline would stretch 350 miles across Pennsylvania. The judge’s order means drilling has to stop at 55 sites along the route of the pipeline, including here in Westmoreland County.

The Pennsylvania Pipeline Project is Sunoco’s expansion of the Mariner East Pipeline system, at a cost of $2.5 billion.

Complaints about the project have increased after spills – known as inadvertent returns, have happened during the drilling process. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has recorded nearly 50 spills since May. A spill in Eastern Pennsylvania tainted drinking water at 14 water supplies.

Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the DEP to do what they can legally to ensure Sunoco is held accountable.

According to the department, there have been 11 spills in Westmoreland County, seven in Washington County and one in both Allegheny and Indiana counties. The judge’s order stops directional drilling for two weeks.

“It’s absolutely a victory for everybody in Pennsylvania who lives near the route and who’s been harmed by Sunoco’s construction,” Clean Air Council attorney Alexander Bomstein said.

Sunoco responded to the judge’s order, in a statement that reads in part..

“We are continually evaluating our drilling plans, and had already voluntarily suspended work on a number of our drills while working to ensure that the concerns outlined by the DEP and Gov. Wolf were addressed.”

The Environmental Hearing board will hold a hearing on Aug. 7, to address earthmoving and water-crossing permit challenges to Sonoco, from environmental groups.

The $2.5 billion, 350-mile pipeline will carry propane, butane and ethane.

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(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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