In March of 2017, an inspector for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) observed “numerous coating scrapes” on sections of pipe that were to be used for the Mariner East 2 Pipeline near Hopedale, Ohio. The impacted sections were immediately removed by Sunoco, the construction company building Mariner East 2, and replaced with new pipe that both exceeded industry safety standards, and passed additional inspections.
On January 11 of this year, the PHMSA issued a “Notice of Probable Violation” to Sunoco as a result of this incident. Anti-pipeline activists without professional knowledge of the industry or factual knowledge of this specific situation seem to be using State Impact’s story to paint this as a “gotcha” moment, when in reality this is simply the safety system working, and Sunoco has eagerly worked to ensure this occurs nowhere else along the construction route. Looking at the PHMSA order, it does appear that Sunoco had noted the damage to the pipe by saying “that pipe number 9567161903, identified by Sunoco as the gouged segment of pipe , was subjected to the field bending which resulted in damage to the outside diameter pipe wall,” and per the report, it does not appear that the pipe had, at that time, been installed for use.
Richard Kuprewicz, President of Accufacts, who does have expertise in the world of pipeline integrity management did comment on the story. As State Impact reported, “Richard Kuprewicz, president of Accufacts, said it appeared that the Ohio incident was not too serious, since the agency did not impose a fine, and that Sunoco seems to have fixed the problem. “It’s a year ago, they are not really getting too serious about it in the sense of escalating a major fine,” said Kuprewicz about the incident. “It signals to me that the company, in getting this called to their attention, had an explanation that reached some satisfaction with PHMSA.”
State Impact, reported on the Notice of Probable Violation in a story clearly slanted towards the anti-infrastructure groups who rely on ideological gimmicks to push an anti-progress, radical agenda that will only hurt the Pennsylvania economy, and Pennsylvanian workers.
Eric Friedman, a member of the Middletown Coalition, an anti-pipeline group in Delaware County, called it “frightening” to think of “how many other instances of substandard construction there may be on Mariner East,” showing just how willing these groups are to turn a blind eye to the truth. Friedman has no real knowledge of the facts of this situation, and he has no knowledge of what steps Sunoco has taken over the past year to fix and prevent this problem.
Friedman chooses to ignore the fact that this is an example of the process working. Inspectors from a number of different groups – federal, state, and private – all examine every single stretch of pipe that is going to be laid down on projects like Mariner East 2. When they discover an issue and that issue is resolved, it’s a success of the safety nets set up precisely to ensure that the pipeline construction process is as safe as possible. Regulators are intended to oversee the project based on safety regulations and not through a fringe-ideological lens like Friedman does.
Taking in only the top of State Impact’s article, or Eric Friedman’s misinformed quote, will leave you with an incorrect impression of this development. This really shows how important it is to have a well-informed discussion about projects like Mariner East. Relying on ideological slanted perspective like this does not tell the real story, but leans more towards ideological propaganda.