Lawmakers implored to beef up pipeline safety regs
HARRISBURG >> When Bibianna Dussling addressed the state Senate and House Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committees Wednesday, she was not talking as a veteran naval aviator and safety and emergency preparedness officer.
She was speaking as a mom.
Dussling served as the chief spokesperson for Middletown Coalition for Community Safety to review statewide emergency preparedness and response measures for the natural gas/petroleum pipeline infrastructure. The organization was present in response to the proposed Sunoco Logistics Mariner 2 pipeline, a portion of which is slated to run beneath a road approximately 625 feet from the Glenwood Elementary School playground in the Rose Tree Media School District.
“My daughter is a firstgrader at Glenwood and I try not to imagine what could happen to her smiling face if there was an emergency,” said Dussling. “We need your legislative action.”
Spanning Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, Mariner 2 is a 350-mile pipeline system which would bring natural gas liquids such as propane, ethane and butane to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex. Approximately 11.4 miles
Sunoco Logistics recently asked the state Department of Environmental Protection for a one-month extension to complete its response to identified issues in the pipeline application package. A company spokesperson indicated the completion and start-up date for the project will be delayed from mid2017 to the third quarter of the year.
The hearing was conducted by committee chairs state Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-38 of Allegheny County, and state Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160 of Upper Chichester, and the latter noted it was the result of the efforts of state Sen. Tom Killion, R-9 of Middletown, and state Reps. Chris Quinn, R-168 of Middletown, and Dan Truitt, R-156, of East Goshen. They
were joined by state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161 of Swarthmore, and a number of other General Assembly members for the three and a-half hour hearing.
Panels composed of the pipeline operator, installers, regulators including the state Public Utility Commission and DEP, emergency responders from Lycoming County and the state Emergency Management Agency and Delaware County residents addressed specific issues. The testimony focused on examining the scope of the current state regulations and determining if any additional precautions are needed.
Joe McGinn, Sunoco Logistics senior manager of public affairs, who said safety is a “hallmark principal” of the company, noted its pipelines throughout the state and nation are situated near municipal buildings, schools, hospitals, parks and shopping centers. He added the systems are monitored 24/7 for pressure, temperature and flow and, if necessary, can be shut down remotely. Training sessions with local first responders have been held in the 17 counties where Mariner runs.
In response to Killion’s question regarding the timeframe for evacuation in case of an emergency, McGinn said the system is checked by human and automatic controls.
“As soon as a leak was detected, the process would begin immediately,” he added. “The process to completely shut it down would take a couple of minutes.”
The Midddletown coalition funded an independent risk assessment and Dussling presented its findings regarding emergency preparedness, regulatory issues and the company’s safety record. Rose Tree Media Superintendent Jim Wigo, speaking on behalf of the more than 2,500 students and 350 staff members in the district, said he had “two asks” – reviewing the system for additional safety standards and tightening regulations at the local and state level.
Joe McGinn, Sunoco Logistics senior manager of public affairs, who said safety is a “hallmark principal” of the company, noted its pipelines throughout the state and nation are situated near municipal buildings, schools, hospitals, parks and shopping centers.
Barrar noted the Legislature is in the process of rewriting the state emergency management code, a project slated for the beginning of the year.
“I want to thank all of you for your professionalism,” he said. “We will incorporate some of the ideas voiced today and those in additional hearings.”
The Mariner 2 pipeline would end at the Sunoco Logistics refinery in Marcus Hook.