Mid­dle­town pipe­line foes vow to con­tinue fight

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Les­lie Krowchenko

To para­phrase John Paul Jones, the Mid­dle­town Coali­tion for Com­mu­nity Safety “has not yet be­gun to fight.”

The grass­roots or­ga­ni­za­tion, which filed an in­junc­tion in Delaware County Court of Com­mon Pleas Mon­day in an at­tempt to de­fer coun­cil’s vote that night re­gard­ing the Sunoco Lo­gis­tics Mariner 2 pipe­line project, plans to con­tinue its ef­forts de­spite the unan­i­mous de­ci­sion to grant the nec­es­sary ease­ments.

“We will pur­sue each and ev­ery le­gal and con­sti­tu­tional op­tion avail­able to us to stop the pipe­line,” said coali­tion mem­ber Eve Miari. “We plan to en­gage with our state rep­re­sen­ta­tives and sen­a­tors and en­ti­ties such as” the state De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion and the Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion.

Span­ning Penn­syl­va­nia, West Vir­ginia and Ohio, Mariner 2 is a 350mile pipe­line sys­tem which would bring nat­u­ral gas liq­uids such as propane, eth­ane and butane to the Mar­cus Hook In­dus­trial Com­plex. Ap­prox­i­mately 11.4 miles would be in­stalled in Delaware County across pri­vate and pub­lic prop­erty in Thorn­bury, Edg­mont, the town­ship, As­ton and Up­per Chich­ester, end­ing at the fa­cil­ity. The first 20-inch pipe­line would have an ini­tial ca­pac­ity of about 275,000 bar­rels a day with the abil­ity to ex­pand to 450,000; the sec­ond 16-inch line, if needed, would have an ad­di­tional ca­pac­ity of ap­prox­i­mately 250,000 bar­rels a day. Both lines would be in­cluded as part of the project.

The vote ap­proved a 50foot easement to con­struct, op­er­ate and main­tain two pipe­lines, un­der­ground fa­cil­i­ties and above-ground mark­ers on four town­ship-owned parcels and max­i­mum 12-foot wide per­pet­ual rights-of-way and ease­ments for use as ac­cess roads on three town­ship-owned roads. The pipe­lines would be in­stalled on open space at Sleighton Park, the Hill­crest and Linvill tracts and Old Mill Pointe. The rights-of-way would be on a road ad­ja­cent to Glen­wood El­e­men­tary School and two roads on the Turn­bridge par­cel. The town­ship will be paid $1.8 mil­lion which will be placed in the cap­i­tal fund for im­prove­ments, said Coun­cil­man Mark Kirch­gasser.

The coali­tion was “not sur­prised by coun­cil’s vote” and en­cour­aged by its di­rec­tion, said Miari. In ad­di­tion to pre and post-con­struc­tion con­ces­sions ne­go­ti­ated with the com­pany, coun­cil ap­proved a procla­ma­tion sim­i­lar to one in Thorn­bury which will be for­warded to Gov. Tom Wolf, the sec­re­tary of the state DEP and chair­man of the PUC. It noted the ma­te­ri­als to be trans­ported are “if re­leased, gaseous, in­vis­i­ble, odor­less, toxic, heav­ier than air and highly flammable.”

“This project has the po­ten­tial to jeop­ar­dize pub­lic safety in the town­ship by ac­ci­den­tal leaks and ex­plo­sions or fire,” it read. “A leak of these haz­ardous liq­uids has the po­ten­tial to block or

ren­der un­safe three-quar­ters of the avail­able evac­u­a­tion routes for town­ship res­i­dents.”

Coun­cil also in­vited coali­tion mem­bers and cur­rent and fu­ture Glen­wood El­e­men­tary School par­ents Bib­ianna Dus­sling, Seth Kov­nat and Tom Smith to work with the body. Kov­nat, a struc­tural en­gi­neer with ex­pe­ri­ence in pipe­line sys­tems, noted the town­ship has re­ceived its in­for­ma­tion ex­clu­sively from Sunoco Lo­gis­tics and be­lieves he will pro­vide an­other per­spec­tive.

“We hope to ed­u­cate the pub­lic and de­ci­sion mak­ers on the state and fed­eral lev­els as to what this type of pipe­line re­ally is,” he said. “They need to be reg­u­lated at the level of a nu­clear fa­cil­ity.”

The coali­tion, which has more than 1,000 fol­low­ers on Face­book, plans to co­or­di­nate ef­forts among the or­ga­ni­za­tion, coun­cil, Rose Tree Me­dia School Board,

com­mu­nity mem­bers and ad­di­tional stake­hold­ers. The group has en­gaged pro­fes­sion­als to com­plete a risk assess­ment, will of­fer sup­port such as ex­pert wit­nesses to in­di­vid­u­als fil­ing suit against the com­pany and is hop­ing to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion at the state level.

The co­or­di­na­tion with Har­ris­burg has al­ready be­gun. Through the ef­forts of state Sen. Tom Kil­lion, R-9, of Mid­dle­town, and state Reps. Chris Quinn, R-168, of Mid­dle­town, Dan Truitt, R-156, of West Ch­ester, and Steve Bar­rar, R-160, of Up­per Chich­ester, chair­man of the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs and Emer­gency Pre­pared­ness Com­mit­tee, a pub­lic hear­ing has been sched­uled for mid-Novem­ber to ex­am­ine the scope of the cur­rent state reg­u­la­tions and de­ter­mine if any ad­di­tional pre­cau­tions are needed.

“The hear­ings will ex­am­ine the cur­rent reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing nat­u­ral gas pipe­lines,” said Bar­rar. “We will specif­i­cally look at items such as re­sponse and evac­u­a­tion in the case of an emer­gency to de­ter­mine whether the cur­rent reg­u­la­tions

are ad­e­quate or need up­dat­ing.”

Kil­lion and Quinn for­warded a let­ter re­quest­ing the hear­ings to Bar­rar and state Sen. Randy Vu­lakovich, R-38, of Glen­shaw, chair­man of the cor­re­spond­ing Se­nate com­mit­tee. Say­ing “en­sur­ing pub­lic safety is a top pri­or­ity for all in­volved,” Kil­lion noted he has closely fol­lowed the de­vel­op­ments in the town­ship and sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties and met with res­i­dents af­fected by the project.

Quinn, a for­mer Mid­dle­town coun­cil­man, also cospon­sored leg­is­la­tion to reau­tho­rize a pro­gram to pro­tect un­der­ground util­ity in­fras­truc­ture and cit­i­zens from line hits dur­ing ex­ca­va­tion projects. The pro­gram, known as PA One Call Sys­tem, helps to en­sure pre­cau­tions are be­ing taken to pre­vent dam­age to un­der­ground util­i­ties and pipe­lines.

“When we first formed four weeks ago, we were viewed as hys­ter­i­cal par­ents,” said Miari. “As of Mon­day night, ev­ery­one in­volved knows we are def­i­nitely for real.”

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Mid­dle­town res­i­dent Ran­dall Samp­son, whose two grand­sons are fu­ture stu­dents at Glen­wood El­e­men­tary School, held a sign in op­po­si­tion to the pro­posed pipe­line at a re­cent Rose Tree Me­dia School Board meet­ing.

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