Senator Tom Killion (R-Chester and Delaware) submitted direct testimony to an Administrative Law Judge as part of Flynn v. Sunoco Pipeline, L.P., the leading complaint filed regarding the Mariner East I & II pipelines that bisect Chester and Delaware counties. Killion is the only state legislator who is a party to a pipeline-related complaint.
“Because the installation and operation of these pipelines is subject to federal and state statutes and regulations, I am committed to using every resource at my disposal to protect the residents of my district,” stressed Killion.
The sponsor of more than a dozen pieces of pipeline safety-related legislation, Killion emphasized three specific areas of concern in his testimony – the absence of a mass early warning system for those living in proximity to the pipelines, Sunoco’s failure to disclose information to emergency management officials vital to preparing for disaster prevention and response, and the lack of independent studies related to the impact of the pipelines.
“I can get text alerts when I get packages delivered, the scores of my favorite teams’ games and about a coming thunderstorm, but Sunoco can’t provide an early warning system for those who live and work close to the pipeline,” noted Killion. “That’s inexcusable.”
Killion’s second concern, Sunoco’s refusal to disclose information to emergency management officials to facilitate effective planning is the subject of his legislation, Senate Bill 284 which was cited by Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Barnes in a December 18, 2019 Initial Decision in Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement v. Sunoco Pipeline, L.P. regarding an alleged incident involving a leak of highly volatile liquids of ethane and propane from the ME1 pipeline in Morgantown, Berks County on April 1, 2017.
Senate Bill 284 would mandate that pipeline operators provide current Emergency Response Plans to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to be responsibly and confidentially shared with county emergency services agencies for the purpose of coordinating a response to a pipeline incident.
“County emergency officials must have the information they need to make sure first responders can effectively react to an emergency. Currently, pipeline operators have the authority to decide what is or is not confidential security information. That’s not acceptable.”
Regarding the need for independent studies of the pipelines’ impact, Killion testified, “An independent expert would be free to give an unfettered opinion and report on the value of manual vs. remote and automatic shutoff valves, the remaining life of the pipelines, and anti-corrosion technology and the available methods to make the pipelines, especially the older ones, safer.”
“An independent expert, cloaked with the authority to review and comment on the impacts of the pipeline would also have a tremendous benefit to public awareness and the need for additional safety measures to address risks,” Killion testified. “This independent expert could address environmental concerns, study wildlife habitats, geology, water quality and other concerns of a public nature.”
Said Killion, “This administrative law process is one way in which we can make sure those living in close proximity to the pipelines are kept safe and that emergency management personnel have the information they need to properly respond to an incident.”