Pennsylvania halts construction of controversial pipeline

Pennsylvania halts construction of controversial pipeline
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Pennsylvania regulators ordered construction crews to stop work Wednesday on a controversial major pipeline after recording numerous environmental violations in the building process, including spills and well contamination.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) accused Sunoco Pipeline of “egregious and willful violations” of environmental rules in building the Mariner East 2 pipeline.

The agency ordered the company to halt all work except some maintenance activities on the pipeline until it can demonstrate that it is abiding by all requirements from the permits the state granted.

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“Until Sunoco can demonstrate that the permit conditions can and will be followed, DEP has no alternative but to suspend the permits,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a statement. “We are living up to our promise to hold this project accountable to the strong protections in the permits.”

Sunoco is a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, the Dallas-based company that developed and operates the contentious Dakota Access pipeline in the Great Plains.

The $2.5 billion Mariner East 2 liquid natural gas pipeline has been highly controversial among environmentalists and some property owners.

DEP alleges dozens of legal violations by Sunoco since May, including releases of fluids into waterways, multiple unauthorized uses of horizontal drilling, unauthorized construction over a creek, violation of an order to re-evaluate construction techniques and unauthorized construction in a wild trout fishery.

DEP said in its order that Sunoco’s “unlawful conduct ... demonstrates a lack of ability or intention on the part of Sunoco to comply” with relevant laws and permits and that a suspension of the permits is necessary.