PA Pipeline Update

The following news article provides a helpful update, with pictures, of the Sunoco Pipeline proposal for the Mariner East 2 Pipeline, which was recently renamed the Pennsylvania Pipeline

Gas pipeline wants fast track on expansion, pump station, flare stack approval in Pa


Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 Pipeline project is crossing Pa for Delaware River ship terminal

Company files request to fast track project approval, including construction of pump stations, compressors, flare stacks in suburban neighborhoods

New or repurposed petroleum pipeline would carry ethane, propane, butane from PA shale gas fields to ships for transport to Europe

Pa company touts jobs, revenue from Pa gas; homeowners urge caution in recently suburbanized communities

Pa township zoning hearings will determine fate of pumping stations with gas flaring stacks

Sunoco Logistics, a Philadelphia and Sinking Spring, Pa gas pipeline company is moving into Eastern Pa with approval requests for its Mariner East 2 pipeline project. The company announced the project in a 2013 press release. Read it by clicking here. 

Mariner East 2 will involve new or repurposed gas pipelines to carry ethane, propane and butane from the new Marcellus and Utica shale gas fields of Western Pa, West Virginia and Ohio to a large new gas shipping terminal on the Delaware River.  FERC.Gov photo

Testing, approvals and some construction on the pipeline has begun in Western Pa and Ohio.  In some areas the 8-inch pipeline will be new and in other areas the pipeline will use existing materials.

Many locations for the existing pipeline now include suburban communities that were formerly rural farmland. Candgnews photo


Mariner East 2 begins at Sunoco’s Houston, Pa location (southwest of Pittsburgh) and will terminate at a new Liquified Natural Gas shipping terminal in Marcus Hook, Pa on the Delaware River.

In March, 2014 Chester County, Pa established an interactive website for tracking pipelines in the county and with links about pipeline issues. Link to the new website by clicking here.

Part of this terminal is also in the state of Delaware.  Sunoco Logistics Image Via FERC


One of the largest shale gas producers in Pa, Range Resources, has committed (2012) to shipping gas through the new Mariner East 2 pipeline, according to Sunoco Logistics.

Much of the gas will come from the gas-rich fields of Southwestern Pa.  This photo is from another gas field in NE Pa. William Huston Blog photo


Shipping capacity and volume estimates vary but one project proposal indicates the pipeline would initially carry 50,000 barrels of liquified gas in the former petroleum pipelines to the Marcus Hook refrigerated gas storage facilities, above. Sunoco Logistics image


The Mariner East 2 pipeline terminal in Marcus Hook is being repurposed from oil refinery and terminal to a gas storage and shipping facility.  The liquid gas would be loaded onto ships and transported to European markets. photo


Many pipelines across Pa were established with easements to carry petroleum when much of the Pa landscape was farmland.  Today these pipelines pass through suburbanized communities.

Additionally, many residents are concerned about the conversion of the former petroleum pipelines to highly pressurized liquid gas and its combustibility.   In some cases, residents aren’t aware that a pipeline, installed many years ago, runs through their neighborhood.


Sunoco has a long history of pipelines through Pa. This image shows a petroleum pipeline through Chester County in 1946. Notice how most all of the terrainwas farmland. Landowners were not too concerned about the pipelines at the time because of wide spaces between the pipelines and homes.

This section is running through Uwchlan and Upper Uwchlan Townships along what was then Milford Road, now Dowlin Forge Road.  This line, however, is not part of the proposed Mariner East 2 pipeline but runs near it.  Penn State image

Nearly the same scene today shows the concern because of farmland that is now suburbanized communities.  Google maps image


One concern for residents is the pump or compressor stations that must be built along the gas pipelines to push the gas through.  Some of these stations can be quite large, depending upon terrain and distance from the next station.

Others are small. This image of a compressor station is from the Catskill Mountains in New York State.  Catskill Mountain Keeper photo


Another example of a pump or compressor station on a gas pipeline, but smaller.  There appears to be a combustion or flare stack on the left. photo

Pipeline compressor station with portable buildings. 

Another concern for residents is a compressor station that might contain a combustion or flare stack. In times of low pressure, liquid ethane, propane and butane can return to a gaseous state which may require its release into the atmosphere through the flare stacks.

This station with flare stack shows how the flaring pipes can be enclosed so residents do not see or hear the emissions from the flare stack. photo

Along the pipeline in West Goshen Township, Chester County, Pa, Sunoco has purchased this (green outlined) 4.2 acre property at Route 202 and Boot Road for a pump station.  It is seeking approval from 31 Pa townships to build 18 of these stations along the pipeline and 17 valve control stations.

This pump station is also proposed for a ‘vapor combustion system’ or flare stack of 34 feet in height. Sunoco wants a variance from West Goshen to exceed the 30 foot building height limit.  The type of flare stack is not known. Sunoco is seeking approval of the zoning variance at an April 3, 2014 meeting at the West Goshen Township building.

Chester County homeowners have organized on Facebook in an effort to have a say in the zoning variance request. Read about their organizationhere.

An article on the group’s initial meeting at the West Goshen Township building on March 27, 2014 by the Daily Local is here.

TetraTech photo via West Goshen Township

 Sunoco Pipeline is also applying for status as a Public Utility in Pennsylvania. See the application and a list of all Pa Townships involved in the Mariner East 2 pipeline expansion by clicking here.

If approved, the pump and valve control station buildings, above, that Sunoco says it would install on the sites, would  be ‘exempt from any local zoning, subdivision and land development regulations’.  

The company is also requesting that the applications be expedited because ‘full potential of Pennsylvania shale gas remains hampered by limited pipeline infrastructure’. The company has requested approval of this legal designation prior to the Public Utility Commission’s meeting of June 19, 2014. 

The company’s application says the buildings and expedited service are needed for the ‘convenience and welfare of the public’.  It also does not want one township’s denial of construction to hold up the entire pipeline.

A judge has already ruled in York County on Sunoco’s Motion for Survey Rights and efforts to condemn property in Eminent Domain. Read about it by clicking here.

PA eminent domain blogger and Harrisburg attorney Michael Faherty has written ten reasons why, he believes, Sunoco will not succeed with the PUC in gaining Public Utility status and the power of eminent domain. Read them by clicking here.

Sunoco Logistics photo

The major concern that residents along the pipeline route have is with safety.  Recent pipeline explosions in the news have caused alarm.

However, statistics show that despite their intrusion into communities, pipelines are the safer method of fuel transport over rail or trucking, according to independent reports which can be found by clicking here. Other concerns are noise, view-shed, and property values for those homes closest to the proposed stations. Protecting our Waters photo

Compressor, pump and valve control stations come in a variety of sizes, according to location and need. Aside from a proposed two modular buildings on each site along the Mariner East 2 pipeline, Sunoco has not revealed the size of the stations requested.

The photos above, from Blogger William Huston in Binghamton, NY, are large footprint compressor stations.

Along with West Goshen Township in Eastern Pa, Sunoco has proposals for pump or valve control stations in Upper Uwchlan Township  where it has existing gas facilities, above, and Wallace Township, Chester County. As of March 28, 2014 no applications for the project from Sunoco had been filed at Upper Uwchlan, said a Township official.

Other stations would be in Upper Chichester in Delaware County, Brecknock and Spring Townships in Berks County, and West Cocalico Township in Lancaster County. Google Maps photos

Pennsylvania has a long history of petroleum and gas pipeline transportation because of its early oil fields in Western Pa and proximity to shipping on the Delaware River.

Initially, pipelines built during World War II carried oil to the large refineries such as Atlantic (1926 photo), above, on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.  Later pipelines carried oil to refineries in Delaware, Marcus Hook and Chester, Pa.  Library Company of Phila photo

This photo of the old Schuylkill River Philadelphia refineries shows the former JFK stadium in the right background. Library Company of Philadelphia photo.

Refineries along the Delaware River are also being repurposed to handle crude oil shipped in trains from new oil fields in the Northern and Northwestern United States.