School district voices worries over proximity of pipeline to school
MIDDLETOWN >> The Rose Tree Media School Board put its words into action Thursday night, voting 7-1 to approve a resolution of concern regarding the proposed Sunoco Logistics Mariner 2 pipeline. The document will be forwarded to Gov. Tom Wolf, state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell, Public Utility Commission members and Delaware County Council.
“Congressional meetings about the pipeline are beginning on Wednesday,” said Superintendent James Wigo. “I would like to hand carry it to them.”
The directors’ involvement is due to the fact a portion of the pipeline is slated to run beneath a road approximately 625 feet from the Glenwood Elementary School playground and the document expressed the directors’ “great concern” regarding the potential effect on its 445 students and 60 staff members. An additional 2,143 students and 290 staff members at three other district schools are located within 3 miles of the proposed pipeline, and “could be subject to emergency evacuation in the event of a leak, breach or explosion,” it noted.
The school board is also “prepared to authorize and utilize appropriate resources” to intervene in the DEP permitting process. The document asks for at least a 60-day comment period after the pipeline permit is re-submitted to DEP and a public hearing in the county to address public health and safety issues. In addition, the directors suggested the application be reclassified to include liquid and gaseous hazardous material transport and include an independent risk assessment study and incident-response plan.
Spanning Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, Mariner 2 is a 350-mile pipeline system that 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 resolution was drafted at the urging of the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety (MCCS), composed of Glenwood parents and community residents concerned about the possible risks associated with the proposed pipeline. To date, the group has
group has also appealed to the township, Swarthmore, Thornbury and Westtown, all of which have adopted similar resolutions, and Media Borough Council sent a letter in support of the township proclamation to the governor. Resolutions are under consideration in West Goshen and other townships and presentations have also been made in Nether Providence and Upper Providence, said member Eve Miari.
Rose Tree Media is the only school district to approve the resolution and those who voted in favor of the document noted it stressed issues such as the importance of children’s safety, fear felt by many residents and environmental impact.
“It is OK for us to take the initiative and be the leader of the pack,” said Harry Postles. “We are not trying to stop this, but rather realize it could affect our kids and want to be part of the process.”
Jim Cunningham, who cast the lone vote against the resolution, noted the school district received $50,000 from Sunoco Logistics after the board granted the easement, which will be used for inspections during non-school hours except in an emergency. As a result, he did not feel the directors should take the stance expressed in the resolution.
“I represent the 37,000 people in this school district,” he said. “The pipeline is a public utility that will be regulated at the state and federal level and the district should not be seen as part of a ‘Stop the Pipeline’ movement.”
The school board is also “prepared to authorize and utilize appropriate resources” to intervene in the DEP permitting process.
The Mariner East pipeline project routes ethane and propane from Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania to a processing station in Marcus Hook.
Residents in Middletown are concerned about the proximity of the proposed Mariner East 2 pipeline to Glenwood School off Pennell Road. The Rose Tree Media School Board now has passed a resolution to be given to state officials indicating their concern over the project as well.