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Mariner East Pipeline Draws Fine From Pa. DEP for Spill into Raystown Lake

The Mariner East 2 pipeline project, which has already drawn huge penalties for spills and environmental damage, has been slapped with an additional $2 million fine by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The latest fine, issued Jan. 16, is for spills of drilling fluids in 2017 while the Sunoco was boring underneath Raystown Lake, a popular boating and fishing lake in Huntingdon County.

“Sunoco’s drilling activities resulted in the release of drilling fluids to the bottom of Raystown Lake. In numerous cases, the company failed to immediately report those releases,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell in a press release. “In addition to a financial penalty, we are also ordering Sunoco to undertake a number of environmental projects to improve the aquatic habitat in Raystown Lake.”

DEP found that between April and December 2017, Sunoco failed to immediately report the spills, which resulted in 208,000 gallons of drilling fluids covering about eight acres of the lake bottom. The drilling fluid is largely made up of a clay. The company in December of that year reported a spill of about 25 gallons of fluid, prompting DEP to have divers take soil samples at the bottom of the lake and leading to a “no wake” zone for boaters for about a month.

DEP said Sunoco’s permits required it to immediately report spills. Under a consent agreement, Sunoco must undertake $1.15 million in fish habitat improvements at the lake and develop a plan to control invasive aquatic plants by treating 100 acres of the lake, in addition to the fine.

In 2018, DEP fined Sunoco more than $12 million for violations on other parts of the Mariner East, which has been blamed for sinkholes forming in Chester County and other damage.

Energy Transfer, Sunoco’s parent company, has also been hit hard by fines. Several weeks earlier it was hit with a record $30.6 million fine for a 2018 explosion and fire along its Revolution Pipeline in Beaver County.

A landslide occurred along the Revolution Pipeline in Center Township, Beaver County on Sept. 10, 2018, causing a section of the pipeline to separate and explode. The resulting fire destroyed a home, a barn and vehicles. While there were no injuries, residents of the area were forced to evacuate for days.

A DEP investigation determined that Energy Transfer had not stabilized a number of areas along the pipeline, and failed to implement controls to address stormwater runoff, impacting streams and wetlands along the right of way.

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