‘MAMA BEARS’ BUSTED

Two women ar­rested dur­ing pipe­line protest at Mid­dle­town site

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bill Ret­tew bret­tew@dai­ly­lo­cal.com

A group of pipe­line protesters who called them­selves the ‘Mama Bears’ take part in a protest against the Mariner East 2 pipe­line project in Mid­dle­town Tues­day. Two ar­rests were made.

MID­DLE­TOWN » Two demon­stra­tors — part of a group that dubbed them­selves the “Mama Bear Brigade” in­clud­ing moth­ers and grand­moth­ers — were ar­rested Tues­day when they sat down and blocked con­struc­tion of Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipe­line on Pen­nell Road.

Ac­com­pa­nied by six sup­port­ers, the area res­i­dents staged a sit-in protest of the pipe­line con­struc­tion.

Ar­rested for tres­pass­ing, a sum­mary of­fense, by Penn­syl­va­nia State Po­lice, were Mid­dle­town res­i­dents Fran Shel­don and Meaghan Flynn. They were soon re­leased by po­lice. At­tor­ney and former Demo­cratic state Se­nate can­di­date Tan­ner Rouse will rep­re­sent Shel­don and Flynn.

The “Mama Bear Brigade,” in­clud­ing Mid­dle­town res­i­dents and Glen­wood El­e­men­tary School par­ents, staged the protest. They said they’re con­cerned about their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren in the blast zone of the pipe­line.

While the women waited for po­lice, they sang a chil­dren’s song, “The Teddy Bear Pic­nic,” with new lyrics.

Caro­line Hughes, of Del-Ch­esco United, sup­ported the demon­stra­tors who have raised their safety con­cerns for two years.

“The moth­ers and grand­moth­ers on­site had writ­ten let­ters, signed pe­ti­tions, tes­ti­fied, and met with the gov­er­nor and now they are feel­ing that there is no other choice,” Hughes said. “They are tak­ing chil­dren’s safety into their own hands and try­ing to stop con­struc­tion.”

Sunoco spokes­woman Lisa Dillinger said the pipe­line builder lost lit­tle time be­cause of the protest.

“While we re­spect that peo­ple have vary­ing opin­ions re­gard­ing en­ergy and in­fra­struc­ture, main­tain­ing a safe work­ing en­vi­ron­ment is a pri­or­ity,” Dillinger said. “We were able to re­sume work quickly this morn­ing, so our day’s time­line was not af­fected. “

The women blocked con­struc­tion of the pipe­line af­ter en­ter­ing onto a drill site and oc­cu­py­ing the area to pre­vent op­er­a­tion of a drill rig. When asked by po­lice to dis­perse, four mem­bers of the group left, while two oth­ers re­fused to leave and were sub­se­quently ar­rested.

The drill site is just a short dis­tance from Glen­wood El­e­men­tary School and con­nects di­rectly to the sec­tion of non-op­er­at­ing pipe that was struck dur­ing by Aqua con­trac­tors in June af­ter Sunoco mis­re­ported the depth of its own newly in­stalled pipe, Aqua rep­re­sen­ta­tives said.

Glen­wood El­e­men­tary has been the epi­cen­ter of the hotly con­tested pipe­line de­bate in Delaware County due to its prox­im­ity to Mariner East 2 and 2X and an above-ground valve sta­tion. The June pipe­line strike am­pli­fied con­cerns ex­pressed by the com­mu­nity.

The res­i­dents, who have been en­gaged in ad­vo­cacy work for two years, and who have met with all their lo­cal and state of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Gov. Tom Wolf, said they had been left with no other choice to and stop con­struc­tion of what they said is a “reck­less and dan­ger­ous pipe­line,” ac­cord­ing to a Del-Ch­esco United re­lease. The demon­stra­tors ap­pealed to gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, at­tended hear­ings be­fore reg­u­la­tory agen­cies, and took le­gal ac­tion in the courts which slowed, but failed to halt, Sunoco’s ef­forts to build a pipe­line to carry highly ex­plo­sive ma­te­ri­als through densely pop­u­lated sub­urbs.

Flynn, one of the “Mama Bears” ar­rested as part of the ac­tion, lives down the street from the drill site and is the mother of a Glen­wood El­e­men­tary School student.

“What we want from Gov. Wolf is to stop this pipe­line,” Flynn said. “If th­ese pipelines ever be­come op­er­a­tional, our chil­dren will be in the blast zone 24-hours a day.

“I don’t know what else I can do to pro­tect them. We’ve done ev­ery­thing else we can do.”

Allyson Gal­loway lives across the street from the drill site and watched the protest from her home.

“We live 50 feet from the pipe­line and our chil­dren also go to Glen­wood. They are at risk all day ev­ery day,” Gal­loway said. “Gov. Wolf has ig­nored our re­peated in­vi­ta­tions to come to our neigh­bor­hood and see for him­self how this project threat­ens our safety.”

Last Dec. 20, res­i­dents of Delaware and Ch­ester coun­ties met with Wolf and re­quested a halt to the project un­til a pub­licly avail­able risk as­sess­ment is com­pleted. When res­i­dents re­turned to his Wolf’s of­fice for an an­swer on March 20, they were greeted by closed doors and armed guards out­side of the gov­er­nor’s pub­lic re­cep­tion area.

To date, Wolf has not di­rectly re­sponded to the res­i­dent’s re­quests. Wed­nes­day’s ac­tion was part of a larger re­gional cam­paign #De­fendWhatYouLoveSum­mer in which res­i­dents across Penn­syl­va­nia are en­gag­ing in peace­ful non­vi­o­lent ac­tions against the Mariner East pipelines project.

The pipelines carry highly volatile, liq­uid eth­ane, bu­tane, and propane to Mar­cus Hook to be ex­ported for plas­tics pro­duc­tion. There are 40 schools across the state of Penn­syl­va­nia in the “im­me­di­ate-ig­ni­tion blast zone” of the pipe­line, in­clud­ing Glen­wood El­e­men­tary.

The op­er­a­tor, Sunoco, has the worst ac­ci­dent record of any pipe­line com­pany, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease. Sunoco’s ex­ist­ing highly volatile liq­uids pipe­line, mar­keted as “Mariner East 1” ap­par­ently to sig­nify its ex­port pur­pose, uses a pipe­line con­structed in the 1930s.

Mariner East 1 leaked haz­ardous, highly volatile liq­uids three times dur­ing 2016-2017, each time in a “high con­se­quence area,” reads the re­lease. In ad­di­tion to the con­struc­tion of Mariner East 2 and 2X, Sunoco is now propos­ing to repurpose an ad­di­tional an­ti­quated pipe­line.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

The “Mama Bears” protested Mid­dle­town con­struc­tion of the Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipe­line.

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