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DEP Issues $1.95 Million Penalty to Sunoco at Raystown Lake
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 01/17/2020

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Thursday announced that it has issued a $1.95 million civil penalty to Sunoco Pipeline for violations resulting from construction activities on the Mariner East 2 pipeline project at Raystown Lake in Penn Township, Huntingdon County.

"Sunoco's drilling activities resulted in the release of drilling fluids to the bottom of Raystown Lake. In numerous cases, the company failed to immediately report those releases," said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. "In addition to a financial penalty, we are also ordering Sunoco to undertake a number of environmental projects to improve the aquatic habitat in Raystown Lake."

DEP discovered that between April and December 2017, Sunoco failed to immediately report losses of circulation comprising of 3 million gallons of drilling fluid during horizontal directional drilling (HDD) activities. As a result, more than 208,000 gallons of drilling fluids surfaced as an inadvertent return covering approximately 8 acres of the lake bottom.

Unauthorized discharges of drilling fluids violate the state's Clean Streams Law and Dam Safety and Encroachments Act. Sunoco's permits require the company to immediately report losses of circulation.

As noted in the Consent Order and Agreement (COA) between DEP and Sunoco, the penalty will go to Pennsylvania's Clean Water Fund and Dams and Encroachments Fund. In addition, with the approval of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Sunoco must undertake measures to improve the aquatic health of Raystown Lake.

Specifically, Sunoco must implement a fish habitat improvement plan, with a minimum monetary value of $1.15 million, to enhance conditions for the fish community in the lake. Additionally, Sunoco must implement an invasive aquatic vegetation control plan to treat 110 acres of Raystown Lake for invasive plant species.

Failure to comply with the COA could result in additional penalties of $1,000 a day per violation, and any future additional inadvertent returns or losses of circulation could result in additional penalties of $5,000 per day per inadvertent return or loss of circulation.

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