Results Released - Citizen Funded Hazardous Leak and Probability Study Sunoco Mariner East 2 Pipelin
News Release: Effective Immediately
Middletown Coalition for Community Safety
For further information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org – (484) 441-3308
MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP, PA – March 13, 2017 – An independent Hazards Study has validated the concerns of residents and technical experts along the proposed and highly controversial Sunoco Logistics Mariner East pipeline route. The study, commissioned by community members, quantifies the potential consequences and probability of a pipeline breach. The proposed route through densely populated suburban Philadelphia is unprecedented for a Natural Gas Liquid (NGL) pipeline, and is a result of no route oversight by any agency at the federal and state levels. Results of the study demonstrate that in the event of a leak with immediate ignition, extensive casualties and serious thermal injuries could be sustained in densely populated areas.
Sunoco Logistics – Energy Transfer Partners proposes to transport up to 770,000 barrels (more than 32 million gallons) per day of so-called “natural gas liquids” (NGLs) including ethane, propane and butane from eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in southeastern Pennsylvania, for export to overseas destinations. NGLs are liquefied under high pressure, but in the event of a leak, expand several hundred times in volume into a gas that is invisible, odorless, heavier-than-air, and extremely flammable or explosive. In Delaware County, where there are over 3,000 people per square mile, a leak or explosion could potentially impact thousands.
Middletown Coalition for Community Safety initiated the attached independent Hazards Study in response to the lack of data surrounding the project. The study, performed by Oklahoma-based and industry-respected Quest Consultants, uses advanced leak simulation software to predict worst case effects from a leak of the 20 inch diameter Mariner East 2 liquefied ethane pipeline. The simulation focuses on Glenwood Elementary School in Middletown Township, where 450 students attend and the pipeline and a valve station are proposed to be installed a mere 650 feet from the school’s playground. The analysis assumes a rupture occurs 35 miles downstream from the closest pumping station, accounting for pressure drop over that distance.
The study confirms the extreme danger posed by a rupture of a pipeline carrying highly volatile liquids. In the worst-plausible-case scenario examined by Quest, a rupture of the proposed highly volatile liquids pipeline could result in a combustible, heavier-than-air vapor cloud that can migrate up to 1,800 feet in 3 minutes. Ignition would result in a fire event that traces back to the leak. Ignition of such a vapor cloud would flash back to the leak source and end in a jet fire that will continue until the pipeline is fully purged. Should such an event occur in proximity to the school, the vulnerable population would have little to no opportunity of escape.
Finally, MCCS has used PHMSA data to calculate Sunoco’s leak rate for Mariner East 2, predicting two pipeline leaks per year along the 300 mile route. This estimate is validated by two Mariner East I leaks in 2016, one in densely populated Aston, PA. Sunoco’s leak frequency provides too many opportunities for the very serious consequences outlined in the Hazards Study. The only reasonable conclusion is to not continue to build this NGL pipeline in proximity to residences, parks, schools, and other vulnerable sites.