Sensational Journalism Around Mariner East 2’s Backfire Misinforms

Yesterday, StateImpact, released an article noting a loud noise produced by the Mariner East 2 pipeline system. Even though there were no leaks or harm caused and the noise was part of routine maintenance, the news source’s article highlights two opponents, Tom Casey and Eric Freidman, who provide misleading information about the pipeline’s safety protocols.

Eric Freidman and Tom Casey are both environmentalists and NIMBY activists who have zero expertise in pipeline construction, operation, public safety or emergency preparedness. Their comments in the StateImpact article cause unnecessary confusion and worry around Mariner East 2 and should hardly be categorized as expert opinion and definitely aren’t based in fact.

Their comments refer to the safety protocols in place to deal with an emergency pipeline situation, calling them inadequate and unreliable. In reality however, Mariner East 2 has undergone significant tests and evaluations to ensure its safety during construction, and has multiple systems in place to address any abnormal activity.

For example, Mariner East 2 uses not only a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system to provide real-time data acquisition, monitoring and control of key operating points, but also a subsystem called Computational Pipeline Monitoring System (CPM). CPM analyzes the flow of liquids using algorithms and improves the operator’s ability to identify abnormal operating conditions. These types of systems provide real time information needed to avoid any possible devastations.

In the article Freidman claims, “No one, neither first responders nor area residents, are prepared for even this ‘dry run’ of a regional catastrophe.”

This is simply not true. There is a robust Facility Response Plan in place for a timely response to pipeline dangers, and first responders across the state have been trained through the Mariner Emergency Responder Outreach (MERO) program. This program trained about 2,350 firefighters, police officers, emergency medical service providers, municipal emergency management officials and other public safety personnel since 2013 to prepare them to respond to pipeline incidents. Therefore, Casey’s comment about how the police are not capable of determining safety because they only listen to what the operator says is incorrect as well. Locals also have the opportunity to address their safety concerns with the Public Awareness Program that holds biennial outreaches.

Freidman and Casey refuse to acknowledge the fact that Mariner East and the surrounding community have a more than adequate system to address incidents along the pipeline. The truth is that Mariner East was quick to respond to local authorities when during a routine maintenance, a backfire occurred on a flare stack while the station was brought back online. The loud noise was nothing other than that, a loud noise. Local authorities were aware of the incident and on the scene as intended.

Both opponents claim this incident is just a small example of the catastrophe and danger that could possibly ensue from the Mariner East 2 pipelines, but the only thing to be taken away from this small inconvenience is that the safety system in place works.