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Pennsylvania checks possible leak in Sunoco gasoline pipeline

Sunoco Pipeline LP's Pennsylvania pipeline headaches got a little worse after inspectors from the state's Public Utility Commission continued to investigate on March 19 a possible leak in a 14-inch gasoline pipeline outside Reading, Pa.

Sunoco claimed there was no leak, and the No. 12001 line that carries gasoline from the company's Montello terminal near Reading north to New York state was still in operation.

"There was a reported odor, but there is no indication at this time of any issue with the pipeline," said Lisa Dillinger, a spokeswoman for Sunoco parent Energy Transfer LP. "The line is in service."

If the Pennsylvania investigators find a leak, it would add to Energy Transfer and Sunoco's woes, which now include a state criminal probe into construction practices on the Mariner East family of NGL pipelines, as well as a suspension of construction permits for pipeline projects due to what state regulators have said is a pattern of noncompliance with environmental and construction regulations.

Residents near the No. 12001 line reported a strong odor of gasoline on March 17, the Public Utility Commission, or PUC, said on March 18. As part of the initial response, PUC investigators had Sunoco crews dig test holes and a trench near 409 Mountain Home Road in South Heidelberg Township in an attempt to locate the source of the odor. Local fire departments and officials from the state's Department of Environmental Protection were also on the scene.

Although Sunoco is already under the PUC and the Department of Environmental Protection's microscope for environmental and safety violations, including the explosion of its Revolution natural gas pipeline in western Pennsylvania in September 2018, the other PUC investigations will not be colored by this new incident, a PUC spokesman said March 19.

"Investigations and formal commission actions are driven by the facts, the evidence and the law," PUC spokesman Mils Hagen-Frederiksen said.

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