HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Two court orders are the latest impedance to construction of a 350-mile gas pipeline across Pennsylvania.
Environmental Hearing Board Judge Bernard Labuskes Jr. halted almost all work on the Mariner East 2 pipeline while it looks into concerns of several citizens groups, including the Clean Air Council.
“We have recently discovered that there have been dozens of spills across the state of a drilling fluid coming from the drilling process for the pipeline,” Clean Air Council attorney Alexander Bomstein told KYW Newsradio. “And in addition, we found out that there have been several instances of water contamination from the drilling into people’s water wells.”
The judge said his ruling could be modified if Sunoco provides the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board “with detailed affidavits explaining why it would cause equipment damage, a safety issue, or more environmental harm than good to stop drilling at the 55 locations where drilling is actively underway.”
“DEP continues to be diligent in our oversight of this project,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “To impact a person’s private drinking water is inexcusable, and we intend to hold this operator accountable to the fullest extent.”
A hearing on the environmental issues is set for Aug. 7 in Harrisburg.
“What we’re asking is that the judge keep this halt on the drilling in place for as long as it takes for the judge to hear our case explaining why the permits were wrongly issued in the first place,” Bomstein added.
He contends Sunoco rushed the project through the regulatory process, leading the problems now being experienced.
A statement from Sunoco Pipeline welcomes the hearing, saying it will “demonstrate that we have expended every effort to meet the strict conditions of our environmental permits”
Meanwhile, an administrative judge for the Public Utility Commission is halting work on one valve in West Goshen, Chester County, in an ongoing dispute over where that value should be located.
In a statement, Township Supervisor Chairman Edward Meakim hailed the ruling and insisted he ruling “validates our position that no one, including Sunoco, is above the law and that must be held to full compliance with our 2015 Settlement Agreement.”