Press Release: Middletown Residents Inform Township of Pipeline Zoning Complaint
April 3, 2017--Six residents of Middletown Township, Delaware County, have now notified Middletown Township that they believe it has a duty to enforce the Township Code’s provisions relating to minimum setback distances required from residential housing units to petroleum product pipelines. The six residents claim that, while the Township previously saw fit to grant easements to Sunoco Pipeline L.P. for its Mariner East 2 hazardous liquids pipeline project, Middletown has not waived its right to enforce the minimum setback provisions of § 210-37.
As alleged in their Complaint, § 210-37 of the Middletown Township Code requires that there be a minimum distance of 75 feet between a dwelling unit and a petroleum or petroleum products transmission line. The Code specifically states, “In no case shall there be a distance of less than 75 feet between a dwelling unit and a petroleum or petroleum products transmission line.”
The Code also provides that “[n]o petroleum, petroleum products or natural gas transmission line shall be constructed in a subdivision or land development on less than a fifty-foot easement. Such lines shall be installed in the center of the easement and shall comply with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations.”
Each of the plaintiffs is either a tenant or property owner in Middletown. One of the property owners lives 30 feet from her next door neighbor’s home. Sunoco’s easement goes right through that space. With its recently announced plans to increase Mariner capacity to 770,000 barrels a day, if permitted the company will lay two pipes in that space, each one of which will be less than 15 feet from the owner’s home.
Four of the plaintiffs live in Township apartment complexes. The Mariner pipelines are planned to be laid in a space between buildings within those complexes where the plaintiffs’ units are substantially less than 75 feet from the hazardous liquid pipes.
MCCS recently commissioned a report from Quest Consultants, a respected Oklahoma firm, to use advanced leak detection simulation software to predict worst case effects from a leak of the Mariner pipeline only 650 feet from the Glenwood Elementary School. The study confirms the extreme danger posed by a rupture and found that it could result in a combustible, heavier-than-air vapor cloud that could migrate up to 1800 feet in 3 minutes. Ignition would result in a jet fire that would leave little to no opportunity of escape. Government data shows that Sunoco has the worst leak rate in the pipeline industry. The six plaintiffs all reside in dwelling units that are well under 75 feet from the proposed Mariner pipelines.
If Middletown Township chooses not to act to enforce the Code within 30 days, the plaintiffs intend to file suit in the Common Pleas Court of Delaware, seeking to enforce the distance requirements of the Code in the siting of the Mariner East 2 pipelines. The Township has received the notice and a copy of the complaint that will be filed against Sunoco Logistics, but has not yet responded.
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