(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Energy Transfer has been convicted of criminal charges related to the construction of two major pipelines in Pennsylvania.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Friday that Sunoco Pipeline L.P., and ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC (ETC), both subsidiaries of Energy Transfer, L.P. (Energy Transfer), were convicted of criminal charges related to their conduct during the construction of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline and the Revolution Pipeline.
According to the plea agreement, the company pleaded no contest, meaning it will be convicted of the charges and will be presumed guilty of those charges.
Sunoco Pipeline L.P.
Sunoco Pipeline L.P. was charged by a Grand Jury with 48 counts of environmental crimes for its conduct during the construction of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline.
The Grand Jury found that Sunoco Pipeline L.P. allowed “thousands of gallons of drilling fluid to escape underground, which sometimes surfaced in fields, backyards, streams, lakes and wetlands. The company then failed to report the losses of fluid to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) numerous times.”
There were multiple drill locations where the drilling fluid contained unapproved additives that entered water — potentially impacting the drinking water of Pennsylvanians who rely on water wells. It is estimated around 8,100 gallons of fluid spilled into Marsh Creek Lake in Chester County unintentionally.
ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC (ETC), a subsidiary of Energy Transfer, was charged by a Grand Jury with nine counts of environmental crimes related to its conduct during the construction of the Revolution Pipeline.
A Grand Jury found that ETC ignored environmental protocols and custom plans that were created to minimize erosion and the possibility of a landslide at the site.
It was found that a “lack of erosion control devices contributed to two landslides, one of which contributed to a section of the pipeline that had been insufficiently embedded into the bedrock of the site to separate from the rest of the line.”
Gas escaped from the pipeline, causing an explosion that damaged homes, barns, vehicles, and destroyed over two acres of trees.
The Mariner East 2 Pipeline crosses 17 counties in the southern tier of Pennsylvania. The Revolution Pipeline, a 42.5 mile pipeline that starts in Butler County, is routed through Beaver and Allegheny counties, and connects to a gas processing plant in Washington County.
Part of the plea agreement, Energy Transfer will pay for independent evaluations of potential water quality impacts for homeowners from the construction of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline.
The company was also ordered to pay $10 million towards projects that improve the health and safety of water sources along the routes of the pipelines.
As part of the plea agreement:
- Free review of residents water
- Anyone who believes their drinking water was impacted by the construction of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline can receive a free review of their water supply, including conducting any recommended testing at no cost to homeowners.
- Free, independent testing of water
- The PA Office of Attorney General will hire independent, professional geologists to perform this review and any recommended testing. OAG has confirmed these geologists have no background working for Energy Transfer.
- Required remediation of impacted water supplies
- If independent testing determines construction of the Mariner East pipeline damaged residents’ water supplies, Energy Transfer’s permits require the company to fully restore safe water.
- Permanent criminal record for Energy Transfer
- This conviction will appear on Energy Transfer’s criminal record and can be found anytime the company bids for a new project.
- Improved water quality
- In addition to free, independent testing of residents’ drinking water, this plea includes $10 million to make the water sources most damaged by construction cleaner and safer. This funding is more than six times the maximum penalty under state law for the charges we originally brought — and will be dedicated to raising the quality of the watersheds and streams most impacted by pipeline construction above the quality level they were at before construction began.
What Impacted Communities Can Do
Anyone who lives in immediate area of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline was sent a letter in July from the PA Office of Attorney General and the Office of Victim Advocate.
Residents interested in having their water tested should reach out to the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General by email email@example.com, phone 570-904-2643, or mail Environmental Crimes Section, 16th Floor, Strawberry Square, Harrisburg, PA 17120.
The deadline to sign up for water testing is Friday, August 19.