News

Line Pressure to Double

‘Mariner East Project’
By Charles Huth


The Sunoco Logistics pipeline may soon carry Marcellus Shale gas through Sun Country. The line runs under SR 743 (shown here), SR 283 and Middletown Road. It passes under Milton Hershey School land and near numerous small businesses and private residences. The Sunoco Logistics pipeline may soon carry Marcellus Shale gas through Sun Country. The line runs under SR 743 (shown here), SR 283 and Middletown Road. It passes under Milton Hershey School land and near numerous small businesses and private residences. Your car tires are filled with air at a pressure of around 32 pounds per square inch (psi).

Soon, Sun Country could have a pipeline filled with Marcellus Shale gas at a pressure of around 1,400 psi.

The Sun has learned that Sunoco Logistics pipeline that runs across multiple Sun Country municipalities – including (west to east) Londonderry, Conewago, Derry and South Londonderry townships – is being repurposed to transport gas extracted from Marcellus Shale.

According to the “Mariner East Project” summary, Sunoco Logistics will be building a new pipeline extension from Delmont to Houston, Pa., where a Marcellus Shale refinery is located. It will then tap into the existing pipeline, which cuts through Sun Country and send the natural gas liquids east to Marcus Hook, Pa. Sunoco Logistics will construct new facilities in Marcus Hook to process, store, chill and distribute propane and ethane to local, regional and international markets.

The summary says that Mariner East is expected to have the ability to transport propane by the second half of 2014 and to transport both propane and ethane in the first half of 2015. The project is anticipated to have an initial transport capacity of approximately 70,000 barrels of natural gas liquids per day.

A representative from Sunoco Logistics met with Conewago Township Supervisor Chairman and Emergency Management Coordinator Joel Buckley. Buckley gave a report about that meeting during the Oct. 9 Conewago Township Supervisors meeting.

There are two Sunoco Logistics pipelines that run along the same right of way, according to Buckley: a six-inch line and an eight-inch line.

Changing Direction

The eight-inch line had been used to transport refined petroleum to the west at 700 psi, but, beginning in 2014, will be used to transport liquefied propane to the east at 1,400 psi, Buckley said. It is not currently known what will happen with the six-inch line.

“There’s more involved than just cleaning out the lines,” Buckley told The Sun.

He said that the pump stations are set up every 50 miles or so and that they are currently set to pump to the west. He said different pumps will need to be set up to send it east.

“For instance, as you go west, you start running into some mountains there,” Buckley said. “Right now, you got the pumps that go up the mountains from the east, and when they’re coming this way, they’ll need pumps on the other side coming up the mountains from the west. Even though they’re able to use the pipeline, there are other things that will be involved.”

Buckley said he did not anticipate that they would need any pump stations in the area, but that he was not privy to that information. He also said that he was uncertain how much pressure the pipeline was built to handle and that the direction change is supposed to begin in mid-2014.

Another Pipeline?

Several residents have received letters requesting permission for their land to be surveyed as part of a feasibility study for a second phase of the project. Should it be considered feasible, a 12-14-inch pipeline will be added, but Buckley was not sure if it would be in the same right of way or if it would have to be expanded.

Rose Safert, Chairwoman of the Conewago Vacancy Board, said that she has heard that Sunoco Logistics is pushing to get a wider right of way. Buckley said he would try to clarify if Sunoco Logistics was planning to use the same right of way for the proposed new pipeline.

Safety and Other Concerns

Residentsvoicedseveral concerns at the meeting. A resident asked about the safety of transporting propane and ethane through the lines instead of refined petroleum.

“My sense would be there are other and perhaps greater hazards associated with transferring this type of material,” Buckley said.

Engineer and selfdescribed “natural gas activist” Steve Todd told The Sun that the dangers of a pipeline containing gas are astronomically higher. He said that propane and ethane are gases under pressure and that a gas will explode back into its container much quicker than refined petroleum.

“It is a danger either way,” Todd said. “Piping gas is always more inherently destructive because fugitive gases are constantly being released into the atmosphere.”

A resident asked about the liability that Sunoco Logistics held should a sinkhole or landslide occur as a result of the company’s actions. Buckley said that there is a statement of liability related to the survey in the letter that had been sent to some residents.

Buckley told The Sun that he is in the process of contacting Sunoco Logistics’ officials to find out if the proposed placement of the phase two pipeline was in the existing right of way and whether or not it would require an expansion of the right of way. He has also asked how they plan to address safety concerns of residents having a highpressure gas line dozens of feet from their residences. He is also attempting to find out the fate of the six-inch pipe and other concerns of the township’s officials and residents.


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