'Backfire' boom on Mariner East Two shakes Chesco residents literally and figuratively

Tim Jimenez
August 07, 2019 - 9:03 am
Construction for the Sunoco Mariner East pipeline.

Jeremy Long/Lebanon Daily News via USA Today Network

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WEST GHOSHEN TWP., Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A loud boom on Monday night rattled people in Chester County who live near the Mariner East Two pipeline. Officials say a flare backfired, similar to when a car backfires, but residents say it was more like an explosion.

Energy Transfer Partners says routine maintenance around 8 p.m. Monday led to a backfire as they were relighting a flare at the boot station in West Goshen. And when that happened, people who live closeby certainly felt it.

"Very, very loud noise. Enough that the noise and the vibration shook the whole house, shook a lot of our neighbors' houses," said Lilli Middlebrooks, who lives with her son Tom in a quiet neighborhood less than a quarter-mile away. "The house shook more than just an instant impact. It was shaking for several seconds."

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Energy Transfer compares the loud noise to a car backfiring. But Middlebrooks, a lawyer who represented West Goshen residents during pipeline talks with the township, isn’t buying it.

"That had to be the biggest car I've ever seen in the universe to cause a backfire that big to shake everybody's home," she said.

"Everyone had to run out of their house to see if someone knew what was going on, and obviously at the time, no one knew what had happened," said her son. 

"I thought my chandelier fell down. It was such a loud bang," reported Pam Terra.

Nearby residents were calling 911. Lilli says neighbors are frustrated with the lack of communication.

An hour and a half after the boom, Energy Transfer tweeted their explanation and an apology for the inconvenience.

There are no reports of anyone getting hurt, but residents are worried about what may happen next. Tom asks what if next time is beyond an inconvenience.

"Something else could happen. I mean, the worse thing is the idea that you can't smell what's coming up through this pipeline," he said.

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan says his office is looking into the incident as part of their overall investigation into the pipeline.