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Crews work at the site of a sinkhole along the Mariner East pipeline route near the Pennsylvania State Police barracks on Route 1 in Delaware County on Thursday, April 25, 2019. Pipeline builder Sunoco said no pipelines were exposed and that the sinkhole was contained. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
A five-foot by eight-foot hole in the ground opened up in a park in Middletown Township in Delaware County on Friday, exposing part of the Mariner East pipeline that transports natural gas liquids.
“The particular sinkhole that I saw was near the intersection of Valley Road and Forge Road, in Sleighton Park, just a few feet away from nearby residences and a few feet away from soccer fields in places where children play,” Friedman said.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said heavy rain caused the hole, and that there was no contamination or environmental impact.
The gas company Sunoco filled in the hole Friday afternoon and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission started a safety investigation.
The PUC said in a news release that the sinkhole occurred in the right of way for a 12-inch steel pipeline that moves “highly volatile liquids (HVLs) and petroleum products” along Sunoco’s Mariner East pipeline system. The sinkhole was near construction work for Mariner East 2, and near “several other pipelines,” the PUC said. The agency added that no leaks or injuries were reported.
The PUC said initial indications are that the pipeline was exposed by the sinkhole, but that there were no “integrity issues” with the line.
“There was no risk to the surrounding community as the length of the exposure was well within the maximum allowable span length for exposed pipe,” she wrote in an email. “There was no impact to any other pipeline in the area.”
The Mariner East project has resulted in multiple sinkholes in the densely populated Philadelphia suburbs, including Chester and Delaware counties.
For now, independent pipeline experts say the blast appears to have been caused by the relighting of a pilot light.
A new sinkhole appeared late Sunday at a Sunoco pipeline site in Chester Co. where several earlier sinkholes led officials to halt construction because of safety concerns.
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