Sunoco meets with Penn Township landowners
By Chris Foreman
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 5:09 p.m.
Though Sunoco Logistics is in court in three counties to secure some easements for its Mariner East pipeline project, construction is expected to begin by the end of this year, a company spokesman said this week.
Sunoco representatives on Monday night met at the Harrison Room in Penn Township with landowners from the western part of Westmoreland County who are affected by the liquid gas-transmission line project.
Like Jeff Gross of Claridge-Export Road, many of the property owners who attended were receptive to the project. Gross said he appreciated that company representatives were willing to address his concern about ensuring the pipeline path won't go through where his garden shed stands.
“There's pipelines all over the place,” Gross said. “If you want to heat your home and live in the 21st century, natural gas has to get there somehow, so what are you going to do? You can't live like you're in the 18th century.”
Sunoco's 50-mile pipeline, which will transport ethane and propane as natural-gas liquids, will run from the Houston area in Washington County to Salem Township.
In all, the project will affect about 400 property owners in Westmoreland, Allegheny and Washington counties. As of Monday, Sunoco had court approval to acquire one easement in Penn Township through eminent domain.
Another 12 cases are pending in the three counties, Sunoco communications manager Jeff Shields said. One is in Penn Township and another is in Murrysville.
Shields described the meeting as an opportunity to explain the construction process and safety protocols with landowners and municipal officials before construction begins at the end of the year.
Penn Township police Chief John Otto said he welcomes the pipeline, but he is concerned about his department's access to the potential scene of an incident. Otto said company officials told him they could shuttle township officers to a scene in their vehicles.
“I'm just not too excited about being at their mercy if some sort of incident would happen,” he said.
State Rep. George Dunbar, R-56, said the maps Sunoco displayed gave him his first visual outline of the pipeline path, which goes through a section of the Bushy Run Battlefield state park in Penn Township.
After a meeting he helped to organize with Sunoco last year, the company altered part of the course because of complaints from some North Huntingdon residents.
But Dunbar said he has only heard a handful of complaints about the project from property owners since then.
“I've always been a supporter of the industry,” he said. “I want to make sure this goes well.”
For Robert and Carol Shula, the meeting was the first time that they learned that the pipeline likely won't cross property they own near Schramm Farms & Orchards after all.
The Shulas received a letter stating the project might affect their property, but nobody from Sunoco returned repeated calls when they sought more information, they said.
The Shulas said a company official was planning to visit their property this week to verify that they no longer would be asked for an easement.
Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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