Mariner East 2 pipeline construction begins in northern Lancaster County

Source: Lancaster Online

Work has begun on laying two natural gas liquids pipelines across 6.5 miles of northern Lancaster County as part of the Mariner East 2 pipeline project.

In Lancaster County, the pipeline — highly controversial and contested in some parts of the the state — affects farmland and the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Clay and West Cocalico townships.

This week, crews hired by Texas-based pipeline owner Energy Transfer Partners welded sections of pipe together and moved earth on rights of way.

Energy Transfer Partners purchased former pipeline owner Sunoco Logistics in April. Energy Transfer also is the owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline that was the scene of massive protests last year in North Dakota.

The Mariner East project consists of laying two pipelines, with diameters of 20 inches and 16 inches, in the enlarged existing right-of-way where an old pipeline used to carry oil products from a Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia to western states.

As part of an earlier phase, that pipeline was replaced in 2014 to carry natural gas liquids such as ethane and propane.

The current pipeline project, called Mariner East 2, adds two pipelines along 350 miles in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to move natural gas liquids from Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale regions of western Pennsylvania and Ohio to the Marcus Hook refinery.

The resulting propane, ethane and butane can be used to make plastics, burned for home heating and blended into gasoline. They will be sold in the United States and shipped by boat overseas.

About 8,000 workers are involved in the project, which is expected to be complete by the end of September.

In the portions of Clay and West Cocalico townships affected by the pipeline, the work temporarily impacts Cocalico Creek, Little Cocalico Creek and Harnish Run, and tributaries. Some wetlands will be temporary affected, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Officials for the two townships told LNP that the pipeline faced no opposition. In Clay Township, the pipeline work is entirely through the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Middle Creek wildlife area.

In West Cocalico, farmers seemed to have been satisfied with compensation and guarantees to buy both this year’s and next year’s lost crops, an official said.

The project has faced protests and court opposition from residents in other counties, such as Delaware, Chester, Cumberland and Huntingdon.