Same gases that fueled refinery fire are also moving through ME pipeline, raising alarm

Kim Glovas
July 09, 2019 - 4:00 am
Construction for the Sunoco Mariner East pipeline.

Jeremy Long/Lebanon Daily News via USA Today Network

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — People living along the Mariner East project in the western suburbs saw the South Philadelphia refinery fire as a warning of what could happen to them, and local government wants the state to step in and stop the pipeline. 

Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety has been appealing to Gov. Wolf for years to stop Mariner East because of the volatility of the gases being carried in the system: butane and propane  the same gases that caused an explosion at the refinery  and ethane. 

Del-Chesco's Eric Friedman says Delaware County Council passed a resolution last month calling on the governor to issue a moratorium as well. 

"Delaware County Council did procure an independent study that concluded that lethal affects could be experienced to well over a mile if there was an accident involving these materials," Friedman said.

Friedman says the only difference is the refinery is in an industrial park, and Mariner East pipeline is in people's backyards. 

Delaware and Chester counties have been asking for an emergency evacuation plan for years in case of a leak on the pipeline. The most recent accident on the pipeline was in April. 

"The Mariner East 2 pipeline has been one that has proven to be particularly incapable of meeting safety demand," said Joe Minot of the Clear Air Council. 

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In addition to County Council, 14 members of the General Assembly and the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee have joined the call for a moratorium. 

The governor's office has issued a statement, saying Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is coordinating with county and local officials on an emergency plan. 

Mariner East 1 has been in operation since 2015 and no safety or evacuation plan has been forthcoming.  

KYW Newsradio reached out several times to the pipeline's parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, but the company has not responded.