The Chester County Commissioners created the Chester County Pipeline Information Center to assist municipalities, pipeline operators, and residents of Chester County to a better understanding of pipelines and their regulation. Now that the site has gone on-line you will be able to view pipeline corridors on municipal maps and learn how to contact pipeline companies with non-emergency questions.
Sunoco Pipeline L.P. recently has contacted landowners in East Nantmeal regarding two pipeline projects. One project involves rehabilitation of an existing pipeline and the other a feasibility study for a new pipeline approximating the existing right of way.
For decades Sunoco’s pipeline moved liquid petroleum products, such as heating oil, from their Marcus Hook refinery to the Pittsburgh area. That route utilizes pipelines that run along the western boundary of East Nantmeal in the vicinity of Millard Road. Sunoco currently has two pipes about three feet underground, one 8-inch diameter and one 6-inch diameter; the larger has been taken off-line for inspection and repair. Ultimately the company intends to reverse the flow from the Pittsburgh area to the newly converted refinery in Marcus Hook. And rather than move petroleum products, the pipeline will carry natural gas liquids. To implement this plan, the line has been cleared so it can be inspected and maintained. Remote inspection of the pipeline will indicate areas where the steel might be dented, thinned or in other ways needing repair. Sunoco can exercise the rights granted in their easement to enter onto an individual’s property to survey, inspect and if necessary excavate and repair the pipeline. Residents should expect to see Sunoco or its contractors doing this type of work in the western part of the township until the projected completion date in mid-2014.
The Mariner East Pipeline Project is a separate endeavor to move natural gas liquids from Ohio, across Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook facility. Sunoco is in the very early stages of Mariner and will be in East Nantmeal conducting a feasibility study. The Company intends to follow the current pipeline route through the township (along the western boundary) using the existing right of way. However, the old right of way may not prove sufficient, which means that the company may need to survey and test areas outside of their right of way. If Sunoco ventures outside the eased areas onto private property, they will need to inform and get permission from the landowner. At this time, no application has been made with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and no permits have been issued for this new pipeline. If the Mariner project is approved and the route determined, then Sunoco may have to also obtain additional right-of-way easements to construct the pipeline.
At the request of East Nantmeal, North Coventry, South Coventry, Union, Warwick, and West Vincent Townships, Natural Land Trust, French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust and Green Valleys Association have compiled a summary of the important natural, recreational, and historical resources in the Hopewell Big Woods. The report also provides information about the potential impacts of the proposed Commonwealth Pipeline or any other future utility rights-of-way that would pass through the landscape.
So where are we on the Commonwealth gas pipeline that first came to light last fall as a threat to our community? We have been hearing reports since December that the project was “temporarily deferred,” but Commonwealth’s website indicated that the project was still a go. That has changed. The website now reports that “The sponsors of Commonwealth Pipeline have suspended development of the project. We will be updating the website periodically to provide current information regarding the project’s status.” This is very good news, but, while now official, a “suspension” is obviously not the end.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission recently awarded the Village of East Nantmeal and surrounding farms – an area of about 1000 acres – a Determination of Eligibility for listing on the National Historic Register. This means that we are just one step away from almost 10% of our Township being included on the National Historic Register! And this also means that we may have another good reason to prevent gas pipelines from invading our precious open space and backyards.
The research needed to complete the final application will cost about $7000, money which the East Nantmeal History Society will have to raise. Because Historic Registry status could also help protect our land, the East Nantmeal Land Trust is assisting with fundraising.
Hopefully, everyone who lives here will recognize what this all means to our Township and to themselves, and support it any way they can. Every dollar counts, so every gift, no matter how small will make a difference!
Please use the enclosed envelope to send your tax-deductible donation to:
East Nantmeal Land Trust
P.O. Box 161
Glenmoore, PA 19343
ENLT is again sponsoring our Annual Yard Sale and all proceeds will help to pay for the Historic Village Registry application. If you have items to donate for sale, or can volunteer your time, please call or email Alison Mallamo [(610) 458-9162; firstname.lastname@example.org].
Citing low natural gas prices and a slow economy, backers of the Commonwealth pipeline suspended the project. But that does not mean this pipeline, or a variant of it, will not eventually be developed. John J. Sherman, chief executive of Inergy Midstream L.P., told investors, “We still believe that the project is needed, it’s a good project, and it’s just a matter of time before it develops,” Inergy, based in Kansas City, Mo., would have built and operated the pipeline.
News items from The Inquirer, announcing the suspension, and the Daily Local News, covering concerns of local politicians, reinforce the notion that we have not seen the end of Commonwealth’s plan for East Nantmeal.
On February 20 at Warwick Township, Supervisors from Warwick, East Nantmeal, West Vincent, Union, North Coventry, and South Coventry Townships; County Commissioners Ryan Costello and Terence Farrell; State Rep. Tim Hennessey; representatives from the offices of Senator Rafferty and Congressmen Gerlach and Meehan, as well as representatives from Natural Lands Trust, French & Pickering Conservation Trust, and Green Valleys Assoc. met in a public meeting to discuss the Commonwealth Pipeline project and how to deal with it.
Four of the six townships, including East Nantmeal, have already passed resolutions objecting to the pipeline as currently proposed in their communities, with the remaining two townships still studying the issues, but expected to follow suit.
There was general agreement among the group that the best initial strategy is to use a coalition approach, with officials on all levels (local, county, and state) contributing as much as they can individually in a multi-pronged fashion. It was also requested that the environmental experts of the land trusts determine the specific impacts that this proposed pipeline would present, particularly as it would run through the Hopewell Big Woods, so that data can be used to strengthen arguments when interacting with the pipeline company and FERC.
Continued education to increase public awareness was acknowledged as an imperative.
While agreeing that stopping pipelines generally is unlikely, the group was optimistic that working together it might be possible to get the company to change the pipeline route away from the ecologically sensitive Hopewell Big Woods area, and into existing ROWs.
Another meeting of the group will be scheduled once the environmental experts assess the impact that the current route would have on our communities.