Sunoco agrees to extend public water to homes with tainted wells

Sunoco Pipeline LP says it will pay to extend municipal water mains to about 30 Chester County households whose private water wells were affected last week by its pipeline construction.

The Newtown Square-based company was moving rapidly Tuesday to arrange to extend Aqua Pennsylvania water service to an enclave in

The ME2 Pipeline route

West Whiteland Township. About a dozen customers said their water wells went bad after Sunoco began underground drilling in the area to construct its Mariner East 2 gas-liquids pipeline.

Township Supervisor George Turner said in an email Tuesday that the company has agreed to “assume responsibility for expansion of the public water system to serve the residents involved.” Details about costs, timetables and whether Sunoco will support the residents’ monthly water bills were still being worked out.

“Today we informed West Whiteland Township that we would move forward with plans to connect homes to Aqua’s municipal water supply, at our expense,” Jeff Shields, Sunoco’s spokesman, said in an email. “We are still assessing the number of homes potentially impacted by construction that will be connected.”

Sunoco was under pressure from public officials to remedy the damage caused by the company’s horizontal directional drilling, which caused some wells to stop flowing and others to go cloudy. Sunoco supplied bottled water and put up several families in hotels after the problems were reported July 3.

West Whiteland told residents Tuesday in an online post that the cloudy water does not appear to pose a public health concern, and that water customers served by Aqua’s system have not been affected.

Mariner East is Sunoco’s $2.5 billion project to deliver natural-gas liquids such as propane across Pennsylvania to its terminal in Marcus Hook. Though it is hailed as an economic benefit to the state, it has also created anxiety, opposition and legal challenges along its 350-mile route.

Shields said the affected homes will be connected to temporary water supplies while it makes plans to convert the area to public water. “The first home should be converted to Aqua’s system in matter of days, and others will follow, depending on the availability of infrastructure in place,” he said.

Some of the affected homes are along Township Line Road near an existing Aqua main and would require only a small service line to connect. But the water company would need to design and build a new main to run about 1,600 feet along Valleyview Drive to connect other residents, and “that’s clearly not going to be something done in a few days,” said Donna Alston, Aqua Pennsylvania’s spokeswoman.

The contamination controversy is the latest point of contention for Sunoco’s project. On Monday, another Chester County community, West Goshen Township, requested an emergency order to block Sunoco from constructing a valve station for Mariner East 2 at a location on Boot Road east of Route 202 that the township says violates a 2015 agreement.

West Goshen filed the 135-page petition with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission as part of a longstanding legal conflict over the pipeline. It says the valve station should be located next to an existing site on Boot Road on the opposite side of Route 202, where Sunoco operates a pump station for its Mariner East 1 pipeline.

Sunoco’s attorneys on Monday asked the PUC to reject West Goshen’s request for an emergency order, saying it had notified the township of plans to relocate the facility because it would be “more prudent and safe.” Sunoco contends that the relocation complies with the 2015 agreement with the township.