Antis’ Fake Outrage at ME2 Construction “Spills,” Demand Stop Work

Anti fossil fuelers believe they have a new angle in their years-long war to prevent Sunoco Logistics Partners from building the Mariner East 2 twin pipelines across the state: drilling mud spills. When a pipeline company installs a new pipeline, the vast majority of pipe is laid in trenches. However, there are places (creeks, rivers, wetlands, roadways) where you can’t just dig a trench to lay the pipe. In those cases, you drill underground horizontally, something called horizontal directional drilling (HDD). When you drill through rock, you need drilling mud to cool the drill bit as it chews away. Drilling mud is typically bentonite, a non-toxic clay substance used to manufacture things like toothpaste, cosmetics and kitty litter. The only threat from bentonite is that it can smother aquatic life if enough is spilled. Or it can foul a water aquifer–making the water in your well cloudy for a period of time, until it settles. Such an instance recently happened in Chester County, when Sunoco’s drilling for ME2 fouled an aquifer, causing well water for some 15 homes to become temporarily unusable (see Sunoco Stops ME2 Drilling in Chester County Following Water Issue). Sunoco has agreed to run a nearby municipal water line to the affected homes. Sunoco is using HDD in a number of locations, to avoid disturbing surface structures. Along the way, a few gallons of benonite mud have gotten spilled here and there. Literally just a few gallons. But each time that happens, it must be reported. Big Green groups have gotten ahold of the reports and are now (via mouthpiece organizations like StateImpact Pennsylvania) proclaiming Sunoco has “already” experienced “61 drilling mud spills.” And based on that very misleading number (vast majority just a few gallons), those same Big Green organizations are demanding the Dept. of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Hearing Board close down construction, immediately. Stop all work on the pipeline–to give Big Green groups time to try and block the project permanently…

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