Gas Pipeline

Workers move pipe on the Mariner East 2 gas pipeline along Route 897 in West Cocalico Township in June 2017. The Chester County district attorney has launched a criminal investigation into the pipelines.

After a one-month shutdown, the state has fined Sunoco Pipeline $12.7 million and allowed construction of the Mariner East natural gas liquids pipeline to resume.

The pipeline goes through 6.5 miles of northern Lancaster County in West Cocalico and Clay townships.

In announcing the action on Thursday, the state Department of Environmental Protection said the fine was one of the largest it has ever collected in a single settlement.

DEP suspended Sunoco’s construction activities on Jan. 3 after dozens of pollution spills along the pipeline. The last straw was a series of violations in Berks, Blair, Cumberland, Dauphin, Huntington, Washington and Perry counties.

The incidents included leaks, discharges into wild trout streams and, in Berks County, drilling under a stream from a point never approved.

The latest violations did not cite Lancaster County but earlier there had been seven spills in West Cocalico Township that had involved the escape of drilling slurry into streams, a wetland adjacent to endangered bog turtle habitat, and on the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area.

The $3 billion, 350-mile pipeline will carry natural gas liquids from the Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale regions of western Pennsylvania and Ohio to a refinery in Marcus Hook, near Philadelphia.

The material will be turned into propane, ethane and butane to make plastics, home heating fuel and blended into gasoline.

The material will be  sold in the United States and exported overseas.

DEP said the consent agreement with Sunoco does not mean the agency will  loosen its oversight.

“DEP will be monitoring activities closely to ensure that Sunoco is meeting the terms of  this agreement and its permits,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

“Since the permit suspension over a month ago, Sunoco has demonstrated that it has taken steps to ensure the company will conduct the remaining pipeline construction activities in accordance with the law and permit conditions.”