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Pa. lawmakers call for Mariner East work halt after blast on other ETP pipe

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Pa. lawmakers call for Mariner East work halt after blast on other ETP pipe

  • Author
  • Bill Holland
  • Editor
  • Pankti Mehta
  • Commodity
  • Natural Gas

A bipartisan group of eastern Pennsylvania state lawmakers called for construction on Energy Transfer Partners' Mariner East 2 NGL pipeline to be halted immediately after the company's Revolution pipeline exploded in a rural area in the western part of the state September 10.

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The September 10 blast destroyed a house, a barn and several adjacent FirstEnergy electric transmission lines in Center Township, Butler County, authorities said. Automatic shutoff valves cut the flow of gas, and the fire burned itself out over several hours that morning, Energy Transfer Partners, or ETP, said.

State lawmakers representing parts of Delaware and Chester counties, outside Philadelphia, called for an immediate halt to ETP's work on the Mariner East 2 NGL line through their districts until ETP's Sunoco Pipeline affiliate proves a similar explosion in their more densely populated towns can be avoided.

"This area of Beaver County is far less dense than the pipeline corridor in Delaware County," Republican state Representative Chris Quinn said in a statement. "A similar incident in my district could be even more destructive and have a greater human toll."

"This pipeline should not be built until the real and legitimate safety and environmental concerns raised by myself and local residents have been fully addressed," Quinn said.

Two state senators from the area, Republican Thomas McGarrigle and Democrat Andrew Dinniman, echoed Quinn's objections. Dinniman filed a complaint in spring with the state Public Utility Commission, claiming that ETP had not lived up to its consent agreements. He called for a closer examination of the geology along the pipeline's route and improved coordination between ETP and local fire and police departments. An administrative law judge immediately suspended Mariner East 2 construction at 12 sites, saying ETP and Sunoco value speed over safety. That ban was lifted for eight sites in August.

ETP has also run afoul of Pennsylvania's environmental regulators and was assessed $12.6 million in fines after repeatedly spilling drilling fluids into wetlands and streams over two years.

The Revolution explosion was the latest in a string of incidents that have resulted in fines, suspensions and public suspicion for ETP's Pennsylvania projects. At one point this past spring, a PUC administrative law judge halted all work on the Mariner East family of pipelines.

Revolution is a 100-mile, 24-inch-diameter header line connecting well gathering systems to ETP's larger Rover Pipeline for dry gas and Mariner East 1 and 2 for gas liquids such as ethane and propane. -- Bill Holland, S&P Global Market Intelligence, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Pankti Mehta, newsdesk@spglobal.com