On Wednesday, officials from Chester County wrote to Governor Wolf calling for the shut down of Mariner East 2 project after an inadvertent return (IR) occurred at Marsh Creek Lake. While IR’s are unfortunate, they are not dangerous and pose no threat to the community (see more information about the IR here).
In their letter to Governor Wolf, officials state “This drilling fluid contains bentonite and other chemicals.” However, this is not true and it is only said to scare the governor and others into thinking the IR was hazardous. Drilling fluid is made up of mostly water and non-toxic bentonite. Bentonite is not harmful in these amounts and no other chemicals are present. It is understood that Marsh Creek Lake serves as a critical drinking water reservoir however drinking water has not been reported affected.
These officials call for suspending the construction of the pipeline until a separate entity gives an “honest evaluation” of whether or not the water is noxious or harmful. Such an “honest evaluation” is already taking place. Just because the commissioners do not agree with what is happening doesn’t justify the creation of another regulatory framework.
What these officials continue to ignore is that “drilling mud” is designed with the purpose of being environmentally friendly for the Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) process to have as little impact on the environment as possible. Calling for yet another investigation of what is already known will waste taxpayers dollars just like it did in the past.
A separate entity to review pipeline construction already exists, it is the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and to suggest that the DEP has not been honest or fair in their decisions surrounding ME2 would be erroneous. As noted in their letter, the DEP has conducted in depth investigations, temporarily suspended work on the pipeline and held the company accountable for violation of their permits.
This is just another unreasonable attempt to delay construction of ME2 without sound grounding.
A Daily Local News piece recently reported on the latest quantitative risk assessment study used to argue against the Mariner East 2 project. Pipeline opponents inclination to generate their own, cherry-picked studies without any credence to technical expertise or training is a farce.
The study, conducted by Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety’s George Alexander, was presented on Monday night at an Uwchlan Township Board of Supervisors meeting. Pipeline opposition groups were able to crowd fund thousands of dollars to secure a three month – license of CANARY, a software used to model pipeline risk, in what is now the third time a group has conducted a meaningless ‘study’ of their own on pipeline safety even though expert studies have shown little concern.
Before results were presented to Supervisors, a member of the presentation team played a dramatic video of Sutton County, Texas’ recent pipeline incident. George Alexander later admitted to trying to model the “…worst case scenario…” Attempts to fear monger could not be more obvious.
Letting a concerned civilian run wild with software reserved for engineers is not going to yield practical or accurate results.
Lastly, pipeline opponents at the presentation hoped to leave with a guarantee from the board to encourage a “state of emergency” be placed on Mariner East 2. Such a request is vastly inappropriate considering the source the foundation that the request is relied.
Pipeline opponents have tried to pursue every angle possible to inaccurately claim that the Mariner East 2 pipeline is unlike all other pipelines and would be unsafe to operate. Little do they know that similar lines run throughout Pennsylvania already. The public should acknowledge regulatory standards and company credentials before seeking a title reserved for natural disasters and drug epidemics.
Yesterday the Delaware County Times published an editorial suggesting that the only way to ease local concerns with the Mariner East 2 pipeline is to have the state conduct a risk assessment study. Respectfully, that is not correct for two significant reasons:
- Existing Regulatory Process
The existing regulatory process already accounts for risk. All of the factors that a risk assessment study conducted by the state would consider have already been accounted for. Additionally, because the risk has already been analyzed, an added study conducted by the state would be not only duplicative, but also a waste of state, and thus taxpayer, money.
- Pennsylvania Law
The Public Utility Commission has already stated that doing a risk assessment likely violates Pennsylvania law.
The existing regulatory system has proven successful at every juncture and can be trusted to catch any potential problems that could arise. This project will be a boon to the people of Pennsylvania and misinformation about safety and risk shouldn’t distract from the $9.1 billion that the Mariner East 2 pipeline will bring to the state. Efficient construction should be encouraged so that the project can be completed in a safe and timely manner.