Din­ni­man re­news call for DEP to re­lease info on wells near pipe­line’s path

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

State Sen. Andy Din­ni­man said Wed­nes­day that he would ap­peal the De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion’s (DEP’s) de­nial of his Right-toKnow Re­quest to ob­tain a list of pri­vate ground­wa­ter wells lo­cated near the path of Sunoco Pipe­line’s Mariner East 2 project in Ch­ester County.

Din­ni­man filed the re­quest with the DEP’s Open Records Of­fi­cer on Sept. 5 and has never re­ceived a re­sponse, mean­ing it was de­nied. He filed an ap­peal Wed­nes­day di­rectly with Erik Ar­ne­son, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Penn­syl­va­nia De­part­ment of Open Records. A de­ci­sion on that ap­peal is ex­pected within 15 busi­ness days.

“While DEP con­tin­ues to drag its feet on re­leas­ing what amounts to public in­for­ma­tion any­way, res­i­dents and home­own­ers in Ch­ester County and through­out the com­mon­wealth con­tinue to have their health, water, and prop­erty rights po­ten­tially threat­ened by this and other pipe­line drilling projects,” Din­ni­man said. “The bot­tom line is I have an obli­ga­tion to pro­tect and stand up for my con­stituents and I will con­tinue to do so, es­pe­cially if DEP won’t and re­gard­less of whether we have a Demo­crat or Repub­li­can ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

The re­quest, filed with the Penn­syl­va­nia Of­fice of Open Records and the DEP, called for the de­part­ment to pro­vide its “list of pri­vate ground­wa­ter wells in Ch­ester County iden­ti­fied by Sunoco Pipe­line L.P. within 450 feet of all hor­i­zon­tal di­rec­tional drilling align­ments, in­clud­ing parcels that would be ad­ja­cent to, but not di­rectly crossed by the Penn­syl­va­nia Pipe­line Project and ref­er­enced in the re­vised Water Sup­ply As­sess­ment, Pre­pared­ness, Preven­tion and Con­tin­gency Plan.”

Din­ni­man, who serves on the Se­nate En­vi­ron­men­tal Re­sources and En­ergy Com­mit­tee, said he needs to ac­cess that in­for­ma­tion to en­sure that DEP is do­ing its due dili­gence in prop­erly en­sur­ing that res­i­dents lo­cated near and po­ten­tially im­pacted by the pipe­line route are no­ti­fied, as re­quired un­der the re­vised water per­mit. He added that af­ter mul­ti­ple res­i­den­tial wells in Ch­ester County were di­rectly and ir­repara­bly im­pacted by Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 drilling in mid-June, sev­eral res­i­dents in­di­cated that they had never been no­ti­fied that the drilling was even tak­ing place.

Din­ni­man ini­tially re­quested that in­for­ma­tion from DEP in a July 14 let­ter. DEP Sec­re­tary Pa­trick McDon­nell re­sponded on July 19 stat­ing that while, “…the com­pany has shared in­for­ma­tion on the pri­vate water sup­plies with DEP. This list is not pub­licly avail­able, as it con­tains in­for­ma­tion of pri­vate res­i­dents, and can­not be shared for con­fi­den­tial­ity rea­sons.”

In ap­peal­ing the de­nial, Din­ni­man wrote that DEP’s de­ci­sion amounted to “a danger­ous po­si­tion for a state de­part­ment to

take” and ar­gued that “to with­hold this in­for­ma­tion from the public only dis­cour­ages fu­ture projects from en­sur­ing in­for­ma­tion sub­mit­ted to com­mon­wealth agen­cies is ac­cu­rate and demon­strates that state de­part­ments will side with the com­pa­nies when mis­takes are made.”

He also said that DEP’s re­fusal to re­lease the in­for­ma­tion not only height­ened grow­ing con­cerns about its abil­ity or will­ing­ness to serve the peo­ple over cor­po­rate in­ter­ests.

“What is most alarm­ing and as­tound­ing is that DEP is us­ing the ex­cuse of ‘con­fi­den­tial­ity’

to pro­tect Sunoco and pro­tect it­self, in­stead of hand­ing over in­for­ma­tion that shows that they’re pro­tect­ing the peo­ple,” he said. “This is a clear-cut case of gov­ern­ment bu­reau­cracy at its worst – un­elected state of­fi­cials putting them­selves and their cor­po­rate in­ter­ests be­fore the very cit­i­zens, fam­i­lies, and com­mu­ni­ties they’re sup­posed to be serv­ing.”

Fi­nally, Din­ni­man noted that the longer it takes for DEP to re­lease this in­for­ma­tion, the more likely it is that res­i­dents nearby the pipe­line’s path will again face im­pacts to their well ser­vice with­out ad­e­quate no­ti­fi­ca­tion that drilling ac­tiv­i­ties are un­der­way.

“In the mean­time, my con­stituents are go­ing to find them­selves in the ex­act

same po­si­tion they were in ear­lier this sum­mer – with po­ten­tially harm­ful pipe­line drilling ac­tiv­i­ties re­sum­ing near their homes and wells with­out any ver­i­fi­ca­tion what­so­ever that Sunoco is no­ti­fy­ing them in a timely man­ner from the gov­ern­ment agency charged with pro­tect­ing their en­vi­ron­men­tal rights,” Din­ni­man said. “You have to won­der if

DEP learned any­thing at all from its first set of fail­ures, or if it is even com­mit­ted to ‘gov­ern­ment that works’ in the in­ter­est of the peo­ple.” To con­tact the Daily Lo­cal News, email news@ dai­ly­lo­cal.com or mes­sage us on Face­book and Twit­ter: www.face­book. com/dai­ly­lo­cal­news, www. twit­ter.com/wc­dai­ly­lo­cal.

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