Sunoco offers affected well owners along pipeline $60K; petition seeks to halt construction

Workers install the Mariner East pipeline in Washington County, Pa., earlier this year.

Sunoco Pipeline LP has offered $60,000 each to at least 14 households in Chester County whose water wells were impaired this month by the company’s construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline, according to two people involved in the negotiations.

The $60,000 would pay for each household’s water bills for years to come after it is connected to Aqua Pennsylvania’s public water system. 

Earlier this month, 14 households near Township Line Road in West Whiteland and Uwchlan Townships complained that the water from their private wells was interrupted or had become cloudy. Sunoco subsequently suspended drilling in that area.  At issue is water that is released in the process of constructing the pipeline. Sunoco says it uses a mix of water and naturally occurring, nontoxic bentonite clay. 

Jeffrey Shields, a Sunoco spokesman, said Thursday that the company will not comment on private negotiations.

The offer, made to the homeowners Wednesday night, was the latest in a recent string of developments regarding the pipeline, which is being built to transport natural-gas liquids through 17 counties along the southern part of the state, including Chester and Delaware Counties.

• On Monday, an administrative law judge temporarily blocked construction of a valve-control station in West Goshen Township, Chester County.

• Tuesday, in a separate action, a state Environmental Hearing Board judge ordered that Sunoco temporarily halt horizontal drilling being done in connection with the pipeline’s construction, although that order does not block all construction. The order will expire Aug. 7, when the environmental board will hold hearings on the matter.

• And on Thursday, a coalition of local environmental groups from suburban Pennsylvania said it had gathered about 1,200 signatures from residents supporting calls for a halt to the Mariner East 2 pipeline construction because of the water issue.

The petition, addressed to the state legislature, supports a recent call by State Sen. Andrew Dinniman, a Democrat from Chester County, to have the Department of Environmental Protection halt the horizontal-drilling method used to construct the pipeline — at least temporarily.

Sunoco made its offer of $60,000 a household Wednesday evening, during a meeting with those whose water well has been affected,  according to two people who were present. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the meeting was private.  

Sunoco permitted the residents to take a few days to “mull it over” before coming to a decision on the offer, but the consensus among those in the meeting was that they would accept it, according to the two people present.