THORNBURY — What is it like to live with pipeline construction in your backyard?
Chris and Kathy Ventresca reside in the Andover subdivision, at the intersection of Routes 926 and 352.
Construction work on the Mariner East 2 pipeline being constructed by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners and local affiliate Sunoco Pipeline LP goes on less than 100 feet from their kitchen.
Chris Ventresca said he lived in Italy for 20 years where earthquakes are common.
“Sunoco turned our neighborhood into a construction site,” he said. “This is like being through an earthquake.”
For the past couple of days, while digging went on nearby, the Ventresca Family’s drinking glasses in the cabinets, and their furniture, rattled. Their 6-year-old son, who was home sick, thought the house was going to fall down.
Furniture shifts, the floor moves and ceiling fans flutter.
Chris Ventresca called 911, Thornbury Township, as well as the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, which is currently conducting an open criminal investigation of Sunoco in conjunction with the state attorney general’s office, as well as several media outlets.
Like about 10 of their neighbors, the family is spending $600 on an engineering assessment to determine whether their foundation has been damaged by drilling and trucks on the nearby right-of-way.
“We want to make sure if damage is done that we can sue Sunoco and have them take care of it,” Chris Ventresca said.
Horizontal Directional Drilling will take place nearby, with underground pipeline construction stretching 7,000 feet to a spot near SS.. Simon and Jude Elementary School, at the intersection of Route 3 and Route 352.
Two pipelines will be installed and Sunoco/ET expects the work to last 200 days for each pipe. Open trenching will take place at Andover.
Kathy Ventresca works from home and is worried that pipeline construction might continue to disrupt her job. She said the current Sunoco digging is “very disruptive.”
The 350-mile pipeline, which stretches across the full 350-mile width of Pennsylvania, will carry highly volatile liquids, butane, methane and propane to a facility in Marcus Hook. Mariner East 2 was initially proposed as a new, 20-inch pipe that would greatly increase production on the line. But a series of snags and construction delays forced the company to put Mariner East 2 online the last week of December using a hybrid of an existing 1930s pipe and two more recent pipes. The liquid gases continue to flow through Mariner East 2; Mariner East 2 has been shut down now for weeks after sinkholes formed for the second time in less than a year in a Chester County neighborhood.
Following that incident the state Department of Environmental Protection halted the flow of materials on Mariner East 1 and halted all future permits for construction on the entire Mariner East project.
Currently the Mariner East project is the subject of two investigations. In addition to the one being headed by Delco D.A. Katayoun Copeland and the state attorney general, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan has impaneled an investigative grand jury to hear from witnesses and review documents.
Energy Transfer Partners has continued to insist there is no need for any criminal investigation, that they look forward to working with investigators, and that Mariner East is being built and will be operated to the highest industry standards.
A June 2017 grading permit for Mariner East 2 has expired.
Thornbury Township “rushed the issuance of a deficient grading permit” to Sunoco in 2017 “without even considering the property owner,” said fellow Andover resident Eric Friedman. That permit has expired.
The Andover homeowner’s association owns the property.
Friedman said that the project is dangerous to Andover residents in many ways, including trench digging, which is shallower. In addition a nearby above-ground safety valve is considered dangerous by Friedman and the entry point where the pipe is inserted into the ground is worrisome.
State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-155, state Rep. Kristine Howard, D-167, and state Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-156, met with residents during Wednesday during a pipeline town hall at Shamona Creek Elementary School in Chester County.
The reps organized the town hall to help ensure that residents know how to protect their home and property during pipeline construction.
Comitta talked about temporary workspace easements expiring.
“Thank you to everyone that came out to share their experiences as residents directly impacted by the Mariner East pipeline,” Comitta said. “I encourage residents to build coalitions with their neighbors or citizen advocacy groups to ensure their concerns and rights are protected.
“We must continue to work as a coalition to ensure the safety and well-being of our neighbors, homes and community.”