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Energy Transfer Uses Workaround to Open Mariner East 2 Pipeline Amid Hazard Worries, Criminal Investigation

Energy Transfer Uses Workaround to Open Mariner East 2 Pipeline Amid Hazard Worries, Criminal Investigation

Mariner East 2 pipeline opponents protest the pipeline project with signs

Energy Transfer has begun shipping natural gas liquids through one of the most troubled pipeline projects in Pennsylvania, sparking calls for additional investigations as residents say safety concerns remain unresolved.

Natural gas liquids (NGLs) are fossil fuels found in large volumes in “wet” shale gas wells. They include the highly flammable fuels propane and butane, plus ethane, which is used extensively in the petrochemicals and plastics industy.

A year ago today, Pennsylvania temporarily suspended permits for Mariner East 2 pipeline construction, citing the builder’s “egregious and willful violations” of state laws.

Portions of Mariner East 2 construction remain under a separate injunction, this one issued by a state administrative law judge in May, after sinkholes opened up in West Whiteland Township in the densely populated suburbs of Philadelphia.

The Mariner East projects are the subject of a criminal probe by the Chester County district attorney’s office, which announced in December that it was investigating potential charges including risking a catastrophe, criminal mischief, and environmental crimes.

We expected the state regulators and the governor to step in and assure the safety of Pennsylvanians,” District Attorney Tom Hogan said in a statement announcing the investigation. “They have not.” (Energy Transfer has “vehemently” deniedwrongdoing.)

Nonetheless, just before the New Year, Energy Transfer, which owns Sunoco, announced that it was starting to operate the Mariner East 2 pipeline, bypassing more than 20 miles of unfinished construction by using a small 12-inch pipeline originally installed in the 1930s.

Sunoco Pipeline sign near Mariner East II pipeline site in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
Sunoco Pipeline sign near Mariner East II pipeline site in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Credit: SamHolt6CC BYSA 4.0

Residents were displeased.

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