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Rep. Chris Quinn Joins Residents at Latest SUNOCO Sinkhole, Calls for Moratorium on Mariner East

Middletown Township, Delaware County, PA — May 3, 2019. Approximately two dozen residents of Chester and Delaware Counties, joined by state Rep. Chris Quinn (R-168) and a representative of Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-5) met Friday morning at the site of Sunoco’s latest known sinkhole along Route 1 in Middletown Township.

Since assuming office in 2016, Rep. Quinn has repeatedly expressed his concerns about the risks to public safety associated with the proposed Mariner East pipelines. “Shut it down,” said Rep. Quinn. “I’ve visited the sinkholes in the Lisa Drive area, but this area is built on granite. There shouldn’t be sinkholes here--yet there are. It’s like you’re driving a car when a warning light comes on. You need to stop immediately and get it checked out. I’m calling for an immediate halt to construction and operation of these pipelines.” “Gov. Wolf needs to shut down these dangerous pipelines now,” said Linda Ciavarelli, a Middletown resident and health care provider whose property lies in the blast zone of Sunoco’s proposed hazardous, highly volatile liquids export project, marketed as Mariner East. “There is no way that this sinkhole did not expose the leaky old 12-inch “workaround” pipeline. This project is putting our community, our first responders, and workers at unacceptable risk.” Delaware County Council procured an assessment of the risks associated with Mariner East, which was publicly released in November 2018. It predicted lethal blast and thermal effects resulting from a leak of highly volatile liquids from Mariner East could extend a mile and a quarter from the point of a release.

Area residents and Rep. Chris Quinn. The now-filled sinkhole is visible in the background.

The sinkhole opened near the State Police Barracks in Middletown Township on Wednesday, April 24. Apparently, before notifying appropriate regulatory agencies such as Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, the Public Utility Commission (PUC), or Middletown Township, Sunoco filled the sinkhole with “flowable fill,” a kind of concrete. While the sinkhole appears to be directly over the centerline of the 12-inch workaround pipeline, these agencies currently have no knowledge of whether this sinkhole exposed the line. The nearby 8-inch “Mariner East 1,” another 1930s-era Sunoco pipeline, was shut down by the PUC in 2018 and again in 2019, both times after the pipeline was exposed by sinkholes in Chester County. Middletown Council Chair Mark Kirchgasser wrote to the chair of the PUC on April 29, 2019. In his letter, Mr. Kirchgasser stated on behalf of a unanimous Township Council “We have grave concerns that despite an unexplained subsidence with no determined cause in an otherwise stable area that an aged, repurposed 12" line carrying highly volatile liquids is allowed to continue to operate without 1.) a clear cause for the event and 2.) any knowledge of what an adequate remedy to the subsidence issue could or would otherwise be.” The sinkhole is next to the shoulder of heavily trafficked Route 1, adjacent to the Pennsylvania State Police Media Barracks, and across the street from Granite Farms Estates retirement community and the Rocky Run YMCA. Today’s images have been shared to a statewide campaign “Voices of Mariner East,” #VoicesOfMarinerEast, highlighting the property destruction and public safety risks associated with the proposed Mariner East pipelines and calling on Gov. Wolf to shut down the project immediately.

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Middletown Coalition for Community Safety (MCCS) is a nonpartisan grassroots group of parents and residents whose goal is to educate elected officials and the public regarding the risks associated with the proposed Mariner East 2 pipeline. The so-called proposed "ME2" pipeline is a hazardous, highly volatile liquids (HVL) pipeline slated to run through all of Middletown Township, Delaware County, a densely populated "high consequence" area. MCCS is working to ensure that area-specific impact studies are conducted and that emergency preparedness, notification, and evacuation plans are in place for all residents and schools in close proximity to any proposed high-pressure HVL line.

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