Uwchlan Township has been telling the story for 3 years that there is nothing they can do about a dangerous pipeline being planted just feet from the homes where our families sleep, the schools where our children learn and the community where we live, work and play. Here’s the story of why our theory of change is promising and why your vote on November 7th matters.
As a condition of approving necessary township permits for Uwchlan township, the township requested that Sunoco/ETP “change the construction method from open cut to boring” (HDD) on January 10, 2017. See here.
One of the many deficiencies outlined by the PA DEP in Sunoco/ETP’s Mariner East 2 permit comments expressed concerns about HDD in the Exton area. Sunoco’s response on February 6, 2017 only addressed coordination with the local public water supplier, not the risks of inadvertent returns generally, or protection of private water supplies:
“Karst area near Exton and the East Whiteland compressor branch present additional risks of IRs during HDD. Provide a detailed assessment of measures to reduce the risk of drilling in these area. There are two areas are the most concerning, especially Exton. There are carbonate rocks, karst surface depressions; and identification of other public water supplies (groundwater or surface water) within one mile. The “water supply areas” geography used in the report is irrelevant to well locations. Locations assessed as medium risk to water wells should have more monitoring and response during the HDD process and for an extended time period after. Also risk categorization should include the
distance from the HDD to the wells and the available categories indicating the amount of water and people supplied from the well. Groundwater impacts from an inadvertent return cannot be directly visually observed from the surface. Any loss of circulation is the only indicator of drilling fluid migrating out of the borehole into the groundwater.” See more here on page 12/13.
As a result of ignoring the DEP’s concerns and not complying with the conditions of their approval, Sunoco/ETP impacted the wells of more than 20 West Whiteland and Uwchlan township residents discovered in July, 2017 after a major frack out. Drilling was halted and the DEP has required a complete re-evaluation of this site in order to continue forward. See details here.
Currently, all operation on the Shoen-Road to Devon Drive site is halted. No further information is available in terms of what method will be approved for completing this project. If DEP denies their ability to resume HDD drilling, which the information above suggests is highly likely, will Sunoco/ETP open trench through densely populated Marchwood, placing this dangerous pipe just 3 feet from the surface of the land where we live, work and play? Or will Uwchlan Township fight to protect the health, welfare and safety of the constituents that they pledged to protect?
Current Uwchlan township officials have claimed that they are unable to enforce local zoning permits, including Ordinance 2014-06 and Subdivision And Land Development Ordinance, section 509.2 . Seven commonwealth judges and the PUC have recently questioned that assertion:
“Judges on the panel expressed concern with Sunoco’s contention that even though the state’s Public Utilities Commission had not issued specific regulations on pipeline routing, it still holds broad authority over the issue.
“You’re saying that a pipeline public utility can put its pipeline wherever it wants to?” Judge Kevin Brobson asked a Sunoco attorney. “Regardless of the density of the municipality, the location of schools … you can put it anywhere?”
“The judges also seemed sympathetic to Freed’s argument that municipalities’ ability to regulate the location of pipelines stemmed from their “police powers” to intercede on behalf of their residents’ “health, safety and welfare.”
“You’re asking this court to tell the township that its obligation to ensure health, safety and welfare can be supplanted when a public utility wants to bring highly volatile materials into its front lawn?” Judge Patricia McCullough asked.” – read full article here
Just 1 week later the Public Utility Commission further made the case:
“Even though the PUC is authorized under the state’s Municipal Planning Code to determine whether to exempt a proposed public utility building from local regulations, “it is not clear that the commission has the authority to provide such an exemption in the context of the instant proceeding,” the ruling said. – Read more here.
The outcome of this fight does not just impact current residents dealing with Mariner East 2 in their backyards. Numerous pipeline projects are currently moving forward in Pennsylvania, several of which will impact Uwchlan Township, learn more here. The outcome of this project will set legal precedent, one way or another, for all future projects here and in neighboring municipalities.
Why is Uwchlan Safety Coalition working so hard to elect Bill Miller and Mayme Baumann for Uwchlan Township Supervisor? Because we need brave elected officials who are willing to challenge the status quo in the name of the health, welfare and safety of the citizens they represent. Bill and Mayme are committed to doing so!
Your vote matters more than ever before on November 7th.
Join us this weekend as we work to Get Out the Vote by Canvasing (sign up here)