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Pipeline project cited for Lower Swatara spill

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 9/6/17

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice of violation Aug. 30 regarding a spill of drilling fluids that occurred as part of the Mariner East II pipeline project in …

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Pipeline project cited for Lower Swatara spill

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The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice of violation Aug. 30 regarding a spill of drilling fluids that occurred as part of the Mariner East II pipeline project in Lower Swatara Township.

The spill occurred Aug. 24 in the Susquehanna River just south of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Bridge in the township, according to the DEP notice. The department inspected the site on Aug. 25.

DEP in the notice said that the Aug. 24 spill was the second spill that had occurred at the same location, but that the contents of the first spill had never been recovered.

DEP said that the Aug. 24 spill was about 50 gallons of bentonite non-toxic drilling fluid, according to an account posted on Aug. 30 by StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration of WITF and WHYY.

An earlier spill of 495 gallons had occurred at the same location about a week before the Aug. 24 spill, according to the StateImpact Pennsylvania post.

Failure to “fully remediate” the first spill resulted in the material remaining in the river while active drilling continued, DEP said in its notice of violation.

“We experienced an inadvertent release of approximately 50 gallons of drilling mud in the Susquehanna River in Dauphin County on Aug. 24 after restarting our horizontal directional drill under the river on Aug. 23,” Mariner East II pipeline spokesman Jeff Shields said in an email to the Press & Journal in response to a request for comment.

“We immediately stopped the drill according to the procedures set forth in our approved plans and notified the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection,” Shields continued in the email. “Most of the drilling mud, consisting of bentonite clay and water, has been recovered, including drilling mud from a previous inadvertent return that was first discovered on Aug. 17. Drilling will restart at that site upon approval of the DEP.”

The notice of violation is not an order or any “final action” by DEP, DEP said in the notice. The notice also does not impose or waive any enforcement action that is available to DEP, the notice said.

Township Interim Manager Frank Lynch was not immediately available for comment.

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