Sunoco Continues to Rack Up ME2 Drilling Mud Spill Violations

Sunoco Logistics Partners (part of and owned by Energy Transfer Partners) has had its fair share of “inadvertent returns” (i.e. leaks of drilling mud) while drilling underground for the Mariner East 2 pipeline project that stretches across the width of Pennsylvania. Some would say Sunoco has had more than its fair share of mud spills. Bear in mind that drilling mud is otherwise known as bentonite–the nontoxic clay mixture used to cool the drill bit as it chews away underground. Bentonite is the same chemical compound used to make kitty litter, toothpaste and all sorts of cosmetics. It’s totally safe for the environment–unless you spill a lot of it and smother little critters like salamanders and fishies. When installing a pipeline, you don’t just dig a trench across a roadway or dam up a creek or river. Instead, you use horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to dig under it. ME2 is some 350 miles long, so there are a number of places where HDD must be used. There are always small drilling mud spills, or inadvertent returns, associated with HDD work. However, Sunoco has had, at last count, 96 such instances (see the list below). Antis seek to make the most of each and everyone spill episode. The most recent such spill is associated with a sink hole believe caused by HDD drilling in Delaware County last week (see ME2 Drilling in Delaware Co. Creates Small Sinkhole, Antis Swarm). The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) sent a notice of violation for last week’s mud spill (see it below). DEP officials admit they are somewhat overwhelmed with trying to keep an eye on the project and are considering “additional enforcement” actions against Sunoco LP for ME2…

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