MEDIA — Delaware County Council joined those in calling for a moratorium on the operation and transmission of all Sunoco current and proposed highly volatile liquid pipelines in light of issues arising surrounding the Mariner East projects and the lack of a emergency response plan for these liquids.
On Wednesday, council voted 3-0 on a resolution calling for the moratorium. Council members Colleen Morrone, Michael Culp and Kevin Madden voted for the resolution. Council Chairman John McBlain abstained as the law firm where he works has done work for Sunoco although he himself has not. Councilman Brian Zidek was absent from the meeting.
Part of the resolution reads, "Delaware County Council hereby calls on Gov. Wolf to institute an immediate moratorium on the operation and transmission of all Sunoco current and proposed HVL pipelines in Delaware County, continuing until there is a credible and practicable public response program and emergency response plan that accounts for the unique hazards of these HVL's and the density and immobility of vulnerable populations within the impact radius."
This is not the first action council has taken in regards to the pipeline.
In November, it released the findings of a risk analysis conducted by G2 Integrated Solutions that evaluated potential accident events, the consequences and likelihood of such events and estimated risk measures.
It also moved to obtain intervenor status in the action filed by seven residents of Delaware and Chester counties before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Madden said the origin mistake was when Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners was given public utility status under the Wolf administration.
"Really to me, that defies common sense," the councilman said. "I don't know how a raw material for plastics manufacturing can be viewed in this world or any other as being a public utility ... By doing that, that decision gave a private company the unilateral right to trample on people's private property rights and to move forward in a way that has really disregarded public safety."
He also said the issue wasn't about the pipeline workers.
"I think there's been a false understanding that this is about jobs versus safety," Madden said. "There is no reason whatsoever that we can't be creating jobs in Delaware County and doing so in a way that respects the importance of the safety of the workforce and the safety of the community."
Madden said county officials need a credible emergency response plan. One, he said, that "accounts for the realities on the ground that we have people that may or may not be ambulatory and are required to run from harm's way from a chemical, a gas that can't be smelled, it can't be seen, it can't really be observed in any way."
"We need to have a credible plan ... and until we have one, I think it's irresponsible to move forward," Madden said. "I implore Gov. Wolf and those who can take action in Harrisburg to do so."
Members in the audience applauded after council approved the resolution.
Among those supporting the move were Rosemarie Fuller of Middletown, one of the seven residents who filed the PUC motion, and the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety.
Eric Friedman of the Middletown Coalition released a statement after the motion was passed.
It read, "The Middletown Coalition for Community Safety recognizes public safety as something to which all Delaware County residents and visitors are entitled. Sunoco's proposed Mariner East export pipeline threatens this fundamental right, with a potential blast zone more than a mile wide, while the company continues to experience accidents on a regular and frequent basis.
"Our coalition commends Delaware County Council for its bipartisan recognition today that 'a large release of (hazardous, highly volatile liquids) in Delaware County could result in mass casualties and mass destruction of property,'" it continued. "We reiterate council's call on Gov. Wolf to issue an immediate moratorium on Mariner East construction and operations."