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DEP orders halt to Mariner East 2 pipeline construction after spills

WEST CORNWALL TWP., Pa. – The Department of Environmental Protection ordered an immediate halt to construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Lebanon C...

WEST CORNWALL TWP., Pa. - The Department of Environmental Protection ordered an immediate halt to construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Lebanon County after two spills of a construction material.

Sunoco self-reported a 50-gallon spill of so-called "drilling mud" in August and a one-gallon spill in September at a job site along Snitz Creek in the area of PA-72 and North Cornwall Road.

As a result, "DEP has requested that Sunoco develop and submit a plan that prevents rather than manages such discharges, including possibly exploring alternative construction methods," said John Repetz, a DEP spokesperson, in a statement.

Township officials have been observing construction since it began and said they were pleased DEP was taking this step to ensure safety.

"Obviously the township is concerned, not only for the residents of the township, but for all the people that live along Snitz Creek, with the contaminated fluids coming into the creek," said David Lloyd of the West Cornwall Township Board of Supervisors.

The drilling mud is not believed to be toxic, but may still have impacts on the environment, officials said.

The construction delay is an annoyance for some who live near Snitz Creek.

"We're talking about water and a version of clay, and Snitz Creek is filled with sediment, mud, water, so a little bit, a gallon more of this stuff, I don't see the impact," said John Embeich, who lives across the street from the construction site.

Township officials admit there is no debating the merits of the project since it has already been permitted, but would like to see it completed safely.

Hopefully, "they either horizontal drill or some alternative way that they do it cleanly with no pollution into the creek," Lloyd said.

A representative from Sunoco did not respond to FOX43's request for comment.

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