PHMSA Issues Notice of Probable Violation to ME2 Pipeline in Ohio

In early January, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) told Sunoco Logistics Partners to suspend all work on the $2.5 billion Mariner East 2 (ME2) NGL pipline–from one side of the state to the other (see PA DEP Caves to Big Green Pressure, Stops All Work on ME2 Pipeline). No further digging of trenches, and no more underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work can be done “until Sunoco can demonstrate that the permit conditions can and will be followed.” The concern is that ME2 work is violating multiple permits, regulations and court-ordered restrictions. However, not ALL work was stopped. As we learned a week later, the DEP does not control and regulate everything–only the parts where dirt is moved (see Work on Mariner East 2 Continues Following “Stop Work” Order). There’s still work being done, like welding pieces of pipeline together, even today. Often overlooked in the ME2 project is the small part of the pipeline that crosses the border into Ohio. The PA DEP’s stop work order (and regulatory authority) does not extend there. The pipeline in Ohio is regulated by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Just coming to light now is a “Notice of Probable Violation” for ME2 in Ohio, issued by PHMSA on Jan. 11th. A PHMSA inspector noticed scrapes, coating damage and a “gouge” that extended into the pipe wall. Chance are none of it makes a hill of beans worth of difference. However, given the pipeline will flow “flammable” natural gas liquids (primarily ethane and propane), anything but a 100% standard of perfection gives antis an excuse to call for a halt to the project, both in Ohio and in PA, which they’re doing…

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